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Widening Security

Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen

Los Angeles London New Delhi Singapore
Introduction and editorial arrangement 0 Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen 2007

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Widening Security

43. What is Security? Einnza Rothschild 1

44. A Genealogy of the Chemical Weapons Tahoo Richard Przce 35
45. Securitization and Desecuritization O l e W m e r 66
46. Secur~tyStud~esand the End of the Cold War
Davzd A. Baldwzn 99
47. Ident~tyand Secur~ty:Buzan and the Copenhagen School
Bzll McSzuecney 121
48. Broaden~ngthe Agenda of Secur~tyStudm: Pol~tlcsand
Methods Kezth Krause and Mzchael C. W~llzanzs 135
49. Collective Identity in a Democratic Community:
The Case of NATO Thomas Rissc-Kappeiz
50. Insecurity and State Format~onin the Global Military Order:
The Middle Eastern Case Keith Krazise 202
5 1. Constructing National Interests Jutta Weldcs 233
52. Multiple Ident~tles,Interfacing Games: The Social Construction
of Western Act~on~n Bosn~a K.M. F w k e 271
s U.S. Grand Strategy
53. Competmg V ~ s ~ o nfor
Barry R. Posen and Andrew I,. Ross 297
54. Imagined (Security) Communities: Cognitive Regions in
International Relations E m m u c l Adlcr 340
What is Security?'
Emma Rothschild

rinciples or definitions of security are a well-established institution of
international politics. They are of great importance, in particular, to the
ceremonials of reconstruction after large international wars. When
Descartes died in Stockholm in the winter of 1650, he had recently completed
the verse text for a ballet called "The Birth of Peace," which was performed
at the Swedish court in celebration of the Treaty of Westphalia, the birthday
of Queen Christina, and the "golden peace" that was to follow the Thirty
Years' War.' All the great postwar settlements of modern times have since
been accompanied, at Vienna in 1815, at Versailles in 1919, and at San
Francisco in 194.7, by new principles of international security. One principle
has been thought to echo to the next, across the turbulent intervening times.
Harold Nicolson set out in 1919 for the Conference of Paris with a "slim and
authentic little volume" about the Congress of Vienna; he addressed his own
account of the Versailles proceedings, some years later, to "the young men
who will be in attendance upon the British Commissioners to the Conference
of Montreal in 1965." '
The Cold War was also a large international conflict. Like the two world
wars and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, it came to an end
with momentous changes in the political configuration of Europe, and it, too,
has been followed by a new political interest in principles of security. The prin-
ciples of the incipient post-Cold War settlement have no Woodrow Wilson (or
no Castlereagh) and n o imposing Congress. But they already have an epigram
in the idea, much discussed since 1989, of the security of individuals as an
object of international policy: of "common security" or "human security."
This essay will look at the proposed new principles in a historical and critical
perspective. They are not conspicuously new, as will be seen, and they suggest
troublesome questions about what it means to have (or to act on) a "principle
of security." They are neither concise statements of received wisdom (like
Castlereagh's "just equilibrium"), nor inspirational (like the self-determination
for "well-defined national elements" of Woodrow Wilson's Four Principles);
they have not been embodied in new international organizations (like the
Source: Dadrrlus, 124(3 ) ( 1995): 5 3-98,
2 Widening Security

settlement of 1945).But this disorderliness is also a strength; the international

politics of the post-Cold War world is itself disorderly, verbose, and only inter-
mittently inspirational. It is closer, in this respect, to the politics of the Congress
of Vienna than to Versailles or San Francisco; it is particularly close, as will be
seen, to the pluralist politics of the generation that preceded the new world
order of 1815.
The war against the French Revolution has been taken as a standard, at
least since Henry Kissinger's encomium to Metternich and Castlereagh, for the
long Cold War. But it is the ideas of the Revolution itself, or at least of its early
and liberal supporters, that have become newly conspicuous in the post-Cold
War settlement. The "liberal internationalism" of the 1990s - a liberalism dis-
engaged, in Stanley Hoffmann's words, from its nineteenth-century "embrace
of national self-determination" - is close to the liberalism of Kant, Condorcet,
or Adam Smith.4 So is the commitment to an international "civil so~iety."~
"The essence of a revolutionary situation is its self-consciousness," Kissinger
wrote; "principles," in such a situation, "are so central that they are constantly
talked a b o ~ t . "My
~ objective is to describe the distinctively self-conscious
principles of the 1990s, and their possible political consequences. These prin-
ciples are evocative, as will be seen, of the liberal ideas - including ideas of
security - of the end of the eighteenth century. But they also hold out the
promise of a different liberal theory; of a theory that is freed, in particular,
from the dichotomies so characteristic of the, 1815 settlement, of English ver-
sus French liberalisms, or of domestic versus international politics.

Extended Security

The ubiquitous idea, in the new principles of the 1990s, is of security in an

"extended" sense. The extension takes four main forms. In the first, the con-
cept of security is extended from the security of nations to the security of
groups and individuals: it is extended downwards from nations to individu-
als. In the second, it is extended from the security of nations to the security
of the international system, or of a supranational physical environment: it is
extended upwards, from the nation to the biosphere. The extension, in both
cases, is in the sorts of entities whose security is to be ensured. In the third
operation, the concept of security is extended horizontally, or to the sorts of
security that are in question. Different entities (such as individuals, nations,
and "systems") cannot be expected to be secure or insecure in the same way;
the concept of security is extended, therefore, from military to political, eco-
nomic, social, environmental, or "human" security. In a fourth operation, the
political responsibility for ensuring security (or for invigilating all these "con-
cepts of security") is itself extended: it is diffused in all directions from
national states, including upwards to international institutions, downwards
to regional or local government, and sideways to nongovernmental organi-
zations, to public opinion and the press, and to the abstract forces of nature
or of the market.
' I i What is Security? 3

The geometry of the proposed new principles is in these terms of dizzying

complexity. But something close to this scheme has become virtually a com-
monplace of international political discussions in the 1990s. The emphasis
on the security and sovereignty of individuals, for example, was of conspicu-
ous importance in the Eastern European revolutions, and in particular to
Vaclav Havel (following John Stuart Mill); "the sovereignty of the commu-
nity, the region, the nation, the state," Havel wrote, "makes sense only if it is
derived from the one genuine sovereignty - that is, from the sovereignty of
the human being."' The foreign policy speeches of the Clinton administration
contained repeated references in 1993 and 1994 to extended or "huniau"
security, including to "a new understanding of the meaning and nature of
national security and of the role of individuals and nation- state^."^ The inter-
national Commission on Global Governance was the exponent, in 1995, of
vertically extended security: "Global security must be broadened from its
traditional focus on the security of states to the security of people and the
planet."' The United Nations Development Program took as the principal
theme of its 1994 Human Development Report the transition "from nuclear
security to human security," or to "the basic concept of human security,"
defined as safety from "such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repres-
sion," and "protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions.""' The United
Nations Secretary-General called in 1995 for a "conceptual breakthrough,"
going "beyond armed territorial security" (as in the institutions of 194.5)
towards enhancing or protecting "the security of people in their homes, jobs
and comnlunities." I '
These ideas of extended security are hardly new in the 1990s. They are a
development, to take one example, of the idea of common security put for-
ward in the 1982 Report of the Palme Conlmission. Common security was
understood, in the Report, in a quite restricted sense. It was presented as a way
for nations to organize their security in the presence of nuclear weapons:
"states can no longer seek security at each other's expense; it can be attained
only through cooperative undertakings." Rut the Report also pointed towards
several more extensive conceptions. One was that security should be thought
of in terms of economic and political, as well as military objectives; that mili-
tary security is a means, while the economic security of individuals, or the
social security of citizens "to chart futures in a manner of their own choos-
ing," or the political security that follows when "the international system [is]
capable of peaceful and orderly change" were ends in themselves. Another
was that lasting security should be founded on an effective system of "inter-
national order." As Cyrus Vance wrote, "the problems of nuclear and con-
ventional arms are reflections of weaknesses in the international system. It is
a weak system because it lacks a significant structure of laws and norins of
behaviour which are accepted and observed by all states." A third conception
was that securlty is a process as much as a cond~tion,and one in whlch the
participants are individuals and groups - "populx and political" opinion,
Olof Palme wrote In hi\ mtroduction to the Report - as well as governments
and states. I'
4 Widening Security

The new security ideas of the early 1980s were the reflection, in turn, of
many earlier discussions. "Over the past decade or so a vast array of public
interest organizations have begun to put forward alternate conceptions of
national security," Richard Ullman wrote in 1983 of the debate in the United
States over extended or redefined security.13 Such proposals were indeed an
intermittent feature of the entire Cold War period, and even of the preceding
postwar settlement. The historian E.H. Carr had thus argued in 1945, in
Nationalism and After, for a "system of pooled security" in which "security
for the individual" was a prime objective, and in which it would become pos-
sible to "divorce international security and the power to maintain it from fron-
tiers and the national sovereignty which they represent." Carr's view of the
previous 1919 settlement as "the last triumph of the old fissiparous national-
ism" - "we shall not again see a Europe of twenty, and a world of more than
sixty, 'independent sovereign states"' - was hardly prescient; nor was his con-
fidence in the diminution of national sentiment in existing "multinational"
states (the United States, the British Commonwealth, and the Soviet Union).
But his "social" or "functional" internationalism is strikingly close, nonethe-
less, to the extended security of the 1990s: its premise is a "shift in emphasis
from the rights and well-being of the national group to the rights and well-
being of the individual man and woman ... transferred to the sphere of inter-
national organization. " l 4

Principles of Security

The new political preoccupation with these old ideas corresponds, in the
1990s, to new political interests. "It is not profitable to embark on the fine
analysis of a definition unless we have decided on the purpose for which the
definition is wanted," John Hicks once said of the economists' dispute over
the definition of One purpose of principles or definitions of secur-
ity is thus to provide some sort of guidance to the policies made by gov-
ernments. Principles of security may be derived or described by theorists,
but they are followed or held by officials. This is what could be described
as the "naive" view of the debate over principles of security, in that it
assumes that principles are indeed important in the organization of policy.
It is this view that was dismissed with condescension by Castlereagh in his
famous State Paper of 1820 about the "principles" of intervention by one
European power in the internal affairs of another (in this case, the consti-
tutional revolution in Spain). Great Britain, Castlereagh said, "is the last
Govt. in Europe which can be expected, or can venture to commit Herself
on any Question of an abstract character. ... This country cannot, and will
not, act upon abstract and speculative Principles of Precaution."16
A second purpose of principles of security is to guide public opinion
about policy, to suggest a way of thinking about security, or principles to be
held by the people on behalf of whom policy is to be made. Castlereagh
gave as the reason for his prudent "maxims" the peculiar circumstances of
r \ i ~ i l i ~ l i iWhat
i ( ~ is Security? 5

British politics: "a System of Government strongly popular, and national in

its character," and one in which "public opinion," "daily Discussion in our
Parliament," and "the General Political situation of the Government" are
of decisive importance for foreign policy." But public opinion is itself influ-
enced by principles or concepts. Some crises are "intelligible" or recogniz-
able to the public mind, in Castlereagh's description, while others are not,
and the process of recognition is influenced by ideas about security. The
quest for principles or epigrams of foreign policy has for this reason (among
others) been of fairly consistent interest to nineteenth and twentieth-century
statesmen, and to their intellectual adjuncts. Equilibrium was "Castlereagh's
favourite word," according to J.A.R. Marriott.lx Even the idea of nuclear
deterrence was most compelling as a popular idea; an idea which provided
"reassurance," to use Michael Howard's term."
A third, related purpose of principles or definitions of security is to con-
test existing policies. To dispute the foundations of policy is one way - an
often effective way in a strongly popular system of government - to subvert
public support for policies to which one is opposed. The interest in new con-
cepts of security was thus encouraged, in the late 1970s and 1980s, by quite
disparate groups. Critics of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO)
nuclear weapons policies, for example, questioned whether current deploy-
ments and doctrines provided security, even against the threat of nuclear war,
and supported different and less confrontational policies (such as "confidence-
building measures"). Other critics were opposed to all "offensive" military
deployments. Yet others, particularly in the United States, favored domestic
over international commitments; economic and environmental security were
described as more fundamental objectives than military security, and expend-
iture on defense was compared to expenditure on other, civil (and often
domestic) objectives. Thc politics of extended security is substantially differ-
ent in the 1990s, in that it has engaged the theorists as well as the critics of
military establishments. I f security is the objective of military and intelligence
organizations, and if the sources of insecurity have changed in character (with
the end o f the Cold War), then a condition for redefining the role of the
"security forces" is redefining security: to contest old policies and to promote
new ones.
The fourth and crudest purpose of principles of security is to influence
directly the distribution of money and power. A public interest organization
concerned with environmental programs, for example, might hope that by
promoting ideas of environnlental security, it would bring about a change
in government policy such that less money was spent on military deploy-
ments, and more on environmental programs. A change in the objectives of
policy from military to economic security would bring a change in govern-
ment expenditure from ministries of defense to ministries of commerce or
of foreign relations. A change in the definition of military security to
include the prevention of conflicts by the deployment of peacekeeping
forces would bring an increase, or prevent a decrease, in expenditure on
military forces. The keenest proponents of extended security, in the 1990s,
6 Widening Security

include officials of organizations (such as the United Nations and its devel-
opment agencies, or humanitarian, nongovernmental organizations) that
would benefit from changes in international policy towards expenditure on
civil objectives. They also include academics who have benefited from the
fairly resilient support by US and European foundations for projects on
extended security (including the projects for which this essay was pre-
pared); several of these foundations, in turn, have had the objective of influ-
encing or contesting existing security policies.20
The main concern of this essay is nonetheless with the first purpose of prin-
ciples of security, as described above: with the naive, or naive idealist, position
that principles, including abstract principles, do matter to international policy.
Castlereagh himself, in speaking of the maxims of British prudence, was
setting out the principles of a policy that repudiated abstract or systematic
principles. Such principles are perhaps especially important to a government
whose "general political situation" depends (in Castlereagh's words) on the
"public mind." One of the presumptions of eighteenth-century liberal thought
was that people tend to think in principles; Adam Smith suggested to states-
men that they "will be more likely to persuade" if they evoke the pleasure that
people derive from beholding "a great system of public police."21As Friedrich
Gentz wrote in 1820 of Castlereagh's memorandum, it was well suited to a
government, such as England's, which "owes an account of its conduct to
Parliament, and to a nation which is not satisfied with an order of business in
the gazettes, which wants to know the why and the wherefore of everything
('le pourquoi du p o u r q ~ o i ' ) . " ~ ~
"Politics would be led into frequent errors, were it to build too confi-
dently on the presumption, that the interest of every government is a crite-
rion of its conduct," Gentz himself wrote a few years earlier. One reason was
that "the true interest of a nation is a matter of much extent and uncertainty;
the conception of which depends greatly upon the point of view in which it
is contemplated, and of course upon the ability to choose the proper one."
Another was the intertwining of the public and the private: "it must likewise
be confessed, that even the immediate interests of states are oftener sacrificed
to private views and passions, than is generally imagined."23There is a naive
realism that is at least as misleading as the naive idealism of the unending
search for principles, including principles of security.

What is Security?

The idea of security has been at the heart of European political thought since
the crises of the seventeenth century. It is also an idea whose political signifi-
cance, like the senses of the word "security," has changed continually over
time. The permissive or pluralistic understanding of security, as an objective
of individuals and groups as well as of states - the understanding that has
been claimed in the 1990s by the proponents of extended security - was char-
acteristic, in general, of the period from the mid-seventeenth century to the
t ' What is Security? 7

French Revolution. The principally military sense of the word "security," in

which security is an objective of states, to be achieved by diplomatic or mili-
tary policies, was by contrast an innovation, in much of Europe, of the epoch
of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. But security was seen through-
out the period as a condition both of individuals and of states. Its most con-
sistent sense - and the sense that is most suggestive for modern international
politics - was indeed of a condition, or an objective, that constituted a relu-
tionship between individuals and states or societies.
"My definition of the Smte," Leibniz wrote in 1705, "or of what the Latins
call Respublica is: that it is a great society of which the object is common
security ('la seurete c o m m ~ i n e ' ) . " ~ ~Montesquieu,
or security was a term in
the definition of the state, and also in the definition of freedom: "political free-
dom consists in security, or at least in the opinion which one has of one's secur-
ity."" Security, here, is an objective of individuals. It is something in whose
interest individuals are prepared to give up other goods. It is a good that
depends on individual sentiments -the opinion one has of one's security - and
that in turn makes possible other sentiments, including the disposition of indi-
viduals to take risks, or to plan for the future.
The understanding of security as an individual good, which persisted
throughout the liberal thought of the eighteenth century, reflected earlier
political ideas. The Latin noun "securitas" referred, in its primary classical
use, to a condition of individuals, of a particularly inner sort. It denoted com-
posure, tranquillity of spirit, freedom from care, the condition that Cicero
called the "object of supreme desire," or "the absence of anxiety upon which
the happy life depends." One of the principal synonyms for "securitas," in
the Lexicon Tucitcum, is "Sicherheitsgefuhl": the feeling of being s e ~ u r e . ' ~
The word later assumed a different and opposed ..
meaning, still in relation to
the inner condition of the spirit: it denoted not freedom from care but care-
lessness or negligence.
Adam Smith, in the Theory of Moral Sentiments, used the word "secur-
ity" in Cicero's or Seneca's sense, of the superiority to suffering that the wise
man can find within himself. In the Wealth of Nations, security is less of an
inner condition, but it is still a condition of individuals. Smith indeed iden-
tifies "the liberty and security of individuals" as the most important pre-
requisites for the development of public opulence; security is understood,
here, as freedom from the prospect of a sudden or violent attack on one's
person or p r o p ~ r t y . ~It' is in this sense the object of expenditure on justice,
and of civil government itself." There is no reference to security, by contrast,
in Smith's discussion of expenditure on defense ("the first duty of the sover-
eign, that of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other
independent societies")." The only security mentioned is that of the sover-
eign or magistrate as an individual, or what would now be described as the
internal security of the state: Smith argues that if a sovereign has a standing
army t o protect himself against popular discontent, then he will feel himself
t o be in a condition of "security" such that he can permit his subjects con-
siderable liberty of political "remonstrance." "'
8 Widening Security

The security of individuals in this sense - the sense of freedom from the
prospect, and thus the fear, of personal violation - has been of decisive import-
ance to liberal political The word "security" in fact assumed a new
public significance in the early, liberal period of the French Revolution. The
natural rights of man, in Tom Paine's translation of the Declaration of the
Rights of Man of August 1789, consisted of Liberty, Property, Security, and
Resistance of Oppression. Security - or "szirete"' - was still a condition of indi-
viduals: it was a private right, opposed, during the Terror, to the public safety
(salut) of the Committee for Public Safety. In Condorcet's outline of a new
Declaration of Rights in 1793, "security consists of the protection which soci-
ety accords to each citizen, for the conservation of his person, his property,
and his rights." Security was conceived, still, in terms of freedom from per-
sonal attack; the constitutional scholar Alengry explained Condorcet's con-
ception of security, in 1904, as "close to the Anglo-Saxon idea of habeas
corpus."32It was to be ensured, henceforth, by society: by the "social pact" or
the "social guarantee" of a universal civil society.
The guarantee of security was extended, in the reform proposals of the
same period, to include protection against sudden or violent deterioration in
the standard of living of individuals. Leibniz had urged the rulers of Germany
after the Peace of Ryswick in 1697 to turn, once the (military) "security" of
their countries was ensured, to a project of social insurance against accidents,
an "Assecurations-Casse"; a republic or a civil society, he said, was like a ship
or a company, directed towards "common welfare."33 Condorcet's project of
social security, almost a century later, had a wider political objective. The new
schemes for social insurance, to be provided either by public or by private
establishments, were intended to prevent misery by increasing "the number of
families whose lot is secured," to bring about a different sort of society, or
"something which has never before existed anywhere, a rich, active, populous
nation, without the existence of a poor and corrupted class."34 The economic
security of individuals was itself of political significance, as the condition for
an active political society. The central idea of liberalism, in Judith Shklar's
description, is that all individuals should be able to take decisions about their
lives "without fear or favor."35 Fear, and the fear of fear, were for Condorcet
the enemies of liberal politics. If people were so insecure as to live in fear of
destitution, in his scheme, then they were not free to take decisions, including
the decision to be part of a political society.
Individual security, in the liberal thought of the Enlightenment, is thus
both an individual and a collective good. It is a condition, and an objective,
of individuals. But it is one that can only be achieved in some sort of collect-
ive enterprise. It is quite different, in this sense, from the inner and intro-
spective security of Roman political thought. It is different, too, from the
security with which individuals can be endowed, by a benevolent or char-
itable or humanitarian authority. It is something that individuals get for
themselves, in a collective or contractual enterprise. The enterprise is in turn
something to be endlessly revised and reviewed. Security is not good in itself,
without regard to the process by which it is achieved. The state (together
Gothit hitl What is Security? 9

with powerful small collectivities such as guilds or communities, operating

under the protection of the state) can be a source both of insecurity and of
a security that is itself o p p r e s ~ i v e . 'Its
~ most important function is to ensure
justice for individuals: "of all the words which console and reassure men,"
Condorcet wrote before the Revolution, "justice is the only one which the
oppressor does not dare to pronounce, while humanity is on the lips of all
tyrants." ''
The new idea of security as a principally collective good, to be ensured by
military or diplomatic means - the idea that came into European prominence
in the period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars - was strikingly dif-
ferent. Individuals and states had been seen as similes for one another, at least
since Grotius's earliest writings on natural rights; individuals were thought to
be like states, just as states were like individuals.'"he security of states
against external, military attack, too - the "Sicherheit" or the assecuratio
pacis of the Miinster deliberations before the Treaty of Westphalia - had been
a commonplace of political discussion in Germany throughout the eighteenth
c e n t ~ r y . Herder
'~ indeed spoke sarcastically, in 1774, of the continuing pre-
occupation with "Order and Security," with the security of Europe and
the world ("Ordnung ~nzdSicherheit der Welt"),and with "Uniformity, Peace
and Security" ("Einfonnigkeit, Friede und Sicherheit")."'But in France, as
in England, the collective sense of the words "surett," "securite," and "secur-
ity" was an innovation, most conspicuously, of the very end of the eighteenth
It was in the military period of the French Revolution, above all, that the
security of individuals was subsumed, as a political epigram, in the security
of the nation. Rousseau described the social contract, much like Locke or
Montesquieu, as the outcome of the desire of individuals for security of life
and liberty: "this is the fundamental ~ r o b l e mto which the institution of the
state provides the solution."" But the ensuing collectivity was itself like an
individual, with a unique or individual will. International order - like war,
in Kousseau's description - was a "relation between states, not a relation
between men."" For Kant, both individuals and states seek "calnl and
security" in law: in the case of states, in the public security ("iiffentlichen
Staatsicherheit") of a cosmopolitan system.4zCondorcet himself, who was
profoundly opposed to Kousseau's conception of a general will as the foun-
dation o f political choice (and to his idea of national education to inculcate
patriotic virtues), was caught up in the new rhetoric o f military security. He
too spoke by 1792 of the security or "surett" of the collectivity: France
would accept peace, he said, if it were compatible with "the independence
of national sovereignty, with the security of the state."44
Paine's translation of the Declaration o f the Rights of Man in 179 1 can
be seen, indeed, as one of the last great uses o f the word in the old sense.
The great public uses of "security" in the new, national sense can be dated
even more precisely. Before the Congress of Vienna assembled in 1814, the
victorious Allies signed the First Peace of Paris with the newly restored King
of France. In the words of the Treaty, France was once again to become,
10 Widening Security

under the "paternal government of its Kings," a guarantee of "security and

stability" ("un gage de securite' et de stabilite'") for Europe. The object of
the coming negotiations, the new French government stated at the formal
opening of the Congress, was to "ensure the tranquillity of the world"; the
epoch was now one in which the great powers had joined together to
restore, in the "mutual relations of states," "the security of thrones" ("la
stirete' des t r 6 n e ~ " ) . ~ "

International Security

The new security principles of the end of the twentieth century constitute a
rediscovery, of sorts, of this late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century poli-
tics. One of the celebrated political metaphors of the post-Cold War period is
Gunter Grass's, of the unfreezing of the germs of European nationalism, con-
served for half a century in the ice of Cold War confrontation. But there is
another, less biotic metaphor, in which it is the politics of liberal internation-
alism that has been unfrozen: not after half a century, but rather after two
centuries of confrontation, between militant (and military) revolution and mili-
tant conservatism. "It was the Revolutionary power more particularly in its
Military Character," Castlereagh said in 1820, that was for the Alliance the
"object of its constant solicitude," and against which, exclusively, "it intended
to take precaution^."^^ The identification of revolution with its military char-
acter, or with its prodigious and offensive military success - the memory of
Custine's and Napoleon's armies, and the transposition of this memory into
the identification of Revolutionary France and Soviet Russia - has been a con-
tinuing preoccupation of subsequent politics. It is only with the final disinte-
gration of Soviet military power, or rather with the disengagement, in the early
1990s, of Russian military power from the Soviet rhetoric of revolution, that
the long militarization of continental political confrontation has come to an at
least temporary end.
It was "the problem of peace and war," for Franqois Furet, that in the
course of the French Revolution "prohibited, in people's minds and in
events, any liberal solution to the political cri~is."~' The political prospects
of 1791 are poignantly incongruous in the retrospect of two centuries
of militarized or militaristic revolution: the proposed governments, for ex-
ample, in which Condorcet was to be Minister of Finance, and Talleyrand
Minister of Foreign affair^.^^ But the liberal solutions envisaged in the early
1790s are perhaps more convincing now, at least in international relations,
than they have been for much of the intervening period. This seems to be
the opinion, in any case, of liberalism's opponents, if not of its (character-
istically) muted supporters. "Liberalism is the real enemy" was the title of
an article in 1992 by the English conservative critic Peregrine Worsthorne, in
which he recounted the "regimental reunion" in East Berlin of "the remain-
ing old guard of Encounter": the conclusion, he said, was that "worrying
about communism intellectually - as against militarily - was a gigantic red
i\ i What is Security? II

herring, deflecting intellectual attention from liberalism, which was a much

more dangerous enemy of ~ivilisation."~'
The two principal constituents of "human security" or "common secur-
ity" in the 1990s - the insistence on human rights and the preoccupation
with the "internationalization" of politics - were also the preoccupations of
late Enlightenment liberalism. For Janos Kis, t o describe something as a
question of human rights is to identify it as of concern to the international
community: "as human rights of a particular kind, minority rights belong
under the protection of the community of nations.""' "Our policies - foreign
and domestic," Vaclav Havel says, "must grow out of ideas, above all out
of the idea of human rights."" The opponents of such policies present then1
as the outcome, or last hurrah, of a half century of Western hegemony, of the
epoch that began, for one leading political figure in Singapore, with the
imposition on a temporarily powerless international society of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights of 1948." But the human rights of 1948 are
also the rights of the American and French Revolutions, or what Condorcet,
speaking of the influence of the American Revolution in Europe, described
as "the natural rights of humanity." These rights hegin with "the security of
one's person, a security which includes the assurance that one will not be
troubled by violence, either within one's family or in the use of one's fac-
ulties," and proceed, through "the security and the free enjoyment of one's
property," to the right of political participation.i3 The new political rhetoric
of human security in the 1990s is also the old rhetoric of natural or inter-
national rights.
The politics of "internationalization," in the post-Cold War period, is
also oddly evocative of older political discussions. One o f the preoccupa-
tions of liberal thought in the late Enlightenment was with the extension of
rights to individual security, or rights of humanity, to individuals who were
not citizens of the state in which the rights were being asserted: to women,
to children, and to the propertyless and dependent within the territory of
the state. Laborers, shop assistants, or women, in Kant's account, could not
be citizens or "co-lawmakers." But they were nonetheless free (as human
beings) and equal (as subjects); they were entitled to the protection of law
as "co-beneficiaries," or partners in protection.'" The next stage, in this
extension of rights, or at least of the right to protection, was its further
enlargement to individuals outside the state or political territory. If the pub-
lic security of the state, in Kant's phrase, was to he achieved only in a cos-
mopolitan ( a "tueltburge~lichen") system, then individuals in one state must
be co-citizens or co-partners, in some sense, with individuals elsewhere.
The international politics of individual security was indeed seen, much
as it has been seen in the 1990s, as the consequence of an exorable "inter-
nationalization" of political, economic, and social life. If one thinks of the
half century from the 1770s to the 1820s as a single epoch - the epoch of
Condorcet and Talleyrand, for example, and not the epoch in which the
Revolution "cut time in two" -then it was a period of intense interest in new
international relationships of different sorts."" It was a time, for example, of
12 Widening Security

tremendously increased information about events in other countries, and of

quite self-conscious reflection on the political consequences of this infor-
m a t i ~ n The
. ~ ~ dissatisfaction of the English public with cursory official
gazettes - their interest in "le pourquoi du pourquoi" - was an essential
element in Castlereagh's politics, as Gentz wrote. In Germany, too, the last
quarter of the eighteenth century saw an explosion of journals concerned with
"the internal affairs of states and with international relation^."^' Condorcet
himself spent much of the Revolution as a journalist, for which he was
excoriated by Robespierre: "hack writers hold in their hands the destiny of
peoples," Robespierre said, and Lafayette, supported by Condorcet, would
have risen to power surrounded "by an army of journalists," and lifted on
"a pile of p a r n p h l e t ~ . " ~ ~
A second preoccupation was with the increase not only in international
information - the knowledge that people in one country had of events in
other countries - but also in international influence. The actions of people in
one country actually caused events in other countries. Herder, in his denun-
ciation of the international culture of information (what he described as the
"Papierkultur!"), spoke of the "shadow" of Europe over the entire world,
and of the "power and machines" of modern times: "with one impulse, with
one movement of the finger, entire nations can be c o n v u l ~ e d . "It~ was
~ not
only princes and sovereigns who exercised new, distant influence, but ordin-
ary citizens (or ordinary trading companies) as well. "The prodigious increase
of the commercial and colonial system in all parts of the world," Gentz
wrote, was the most significant development "in the political world since the
Treaty of Westphalia." It had transformed continents, and it also transformed
Europe itself: "it has even been the groundwork in the interior of states, of a
great revolution in all the relations of society."60
A third concern was with the increased effectiveness, in international rela-
tions, of official policy. Castlereagh concluded that the Spanish crisis of 1820
did not constitute "a practical and intelligible Danger, capable of being
brought home to the National Feeling," and was not sufficient, therefore, to
justify military intervention by the British. But he emphasized that Britain
could indeed have undertaken such an effort if she had wished to do so.
Britain had "perhaps equal power with any other State" to oppose an intelli-
gible danger: "she can interfere with effect."61 One source of this new power
was Britain's own military superiority, following the defeat of France. But for
other states, too, the possibilities of international interference were greatly
increased. Condorcet, looking ahead in 1792 to the formation of an inde-
pendent federation of small German states, pointed out that new canals would
make possible the rapid movement (if requested for the defense of the new
federation) of "troops" and "munitions" from France. He also foresaw a fear-
some world of multiple military interventions: "There would be no more free-
dom or peace on earth, if each government thought it had the right to employ
force to establish in foreign countries the principles which it considers to be
useful to its own interest^."^^
The fourth and most evocatively modern concern was with the increased
scope of international politics itself. Castlereagh insisted on the intelligibility
of international problems as a precondition for international interference - on
the requirement that they should mean something to what he describes repeat-
edly in his state paper as "public sentiment," "public opinion," "the public
mind."h' To have information about some foreign event is a necessary condi-
tion, evidently, if an individual (or "the puhlic") is to recognize that event as
being of political importance. To have the possibility or power to "interfere
with effect" is also necessary; political obligations, like moral obligations, are
bounded by the limits of the possible, or of what Castlereagh called the prac-
tical. TO have the sentiment that one stands in some sort of causal relation-
ship to the event in question - the relationship of influence, for example - is
of further political importance. We are inspired to passion, Hume said, by
that which "bears a relation to us" or is in "some way associated with us";
"its idea must hang in a manner, upon that of o ~ ~ r s e l v e s . " ~ ~
The societies for the abolition of slavery in the 1780s and 1790s -
Condorcet's Awzis des Noirs, for example, in which the pamphleteer William
Playfair saw "the first step" to revolution - provide a good illu~tration.~'
Slavery, even outside the colonial territory, was recognized as a political prob-
lem by British and French public opinion in part because it was so evidently
related to British and French policy, to British and French laws and commerce,
and even to the tastes of British and French consumers (the taste for sugar,
which British abolitionists - or "Anti-Saccharites" - refused in one of the first
political revolts of modern c o n s u ~ n e r s )This
. ~ ~ recognition of the political
in~portance,or at least of the political intelligibilit): of the destinies of distant
individuals was indeed a principal indicator, in some of the greatest liberal
thought, of political enlightenment itself. "The spectacle of a great people
where the rights of man are respected is useful to 311 others," Condorcet wrote
in his observations o n the influence of the American Revolution in E ~ ~ r o p e :
"It teaches us that these rights are everywhere the same.""' Kant used the same
image of a spectacle, a few years later, in speaking of the French Revolution.
An "occurrence in our own times," he wrote, has revealed a view "into the
unbounded future." The occurrence was a disposition; it was the sympathy of
disinterested spectators for the French Revolution, in which "their reaction
(because of its universality) proves that mankind as a whole shares a certain
character in c o n ~ m o n . " " ~

Extended Security and Extended Policies

The obvious shortcoming of the new ideas or principles of security of the

1990s, as was suggested earlier, is their inclusiveness: the dizzying complex-
ity of a political geometry ("tous azinzttts") in which individuals, groups,
states, and international organizations have responsibilities for inter-
national organizations, states, groups, and individuals. This inclusiveness,
14 Widening Security

or incoherence, was also a characteristic of the earlier liberalism of inter-

national (and individual) security. One much discussed problem was that of
psychological incoherence. If the individual is expected to recognize the rights
of all other individuals, however remote, then she may disregard other, less
remote individuals, or find herself so overburdened by the process of (polit-
ical) recognition that she does nothing about anything: this is the old charge
against liberalism (Edmund Burke's charge, for example), of coldness, or
irresolution, or both.
The second and more serious problem is of political incoherence. The
principal connotation of individual security in modern political thought, as
has been seen, is as a relation between the individual and the state: security
is an objective of individuals, but one that can only be achieved in a collect-
ive or political process. Even the idea of national or state security, in the
sense that became widespread after 1815, refers to a collective process in
which the participants are themselves states: the Westphalian settlement, or
Kant's cosmopolitan federation, or the equilibrium of Europe. But the "human
security" of the new international principles seems to impose relations that are
only tenuously political. The security of an individual in one country is to be
achieved through the agency of a state (or a substate group, or a suprastate
organization) in another country. The individual is thereby very much less
than a co-lawmaker, in Kant's sense, in the political procedure that ensures
security. She is less, even, than a co-beneficiary (like a wife or a shop assis-
tant); she is not even a partner in being protected.
The nonpolitical character of the new principles poses evident problems.
To have a right means very little, in the liberal political theory with which we
have been concerned, if one is not conscious of the right. Adam Smith, like
Hume, criticized the theory of a tacit or original contract for individual secur-
ity on the grounds that it ignored the consciousness of individual political sub-
jects: "they are not conscious of it, and therefore cannot be bound by it."69
For Condorcet, if individuals were not conscious of their rights, or did not
understand them, then their rights were not "real"; this was one of his princi-
pal arguments for universal public instr~ction.'~ But the beneficiaries of the
new international policies are not especially likely to be conscious political
subjects in this sense. The individual who is "troubled by violence" does not
know who to ask for protection (which agency of the United Nations, which
nongovernmental organization, and in what language?), and she has no polit-
ical recourse if the protection is not provided. The interposition of poorly
understood and only incipiently political rights is even more insidious, in some
circumstances, if the assertion of a new international right has the effect of
subverting a local and potentially more resilient political process. One of the
charges made against the humanitarian policies of the 1990s is indeed that by
depoliticizing procedures of emergency relief, they tend to subvert the local
politics in which individual subjects are conscious participants, and which
constitutes the only consistent source of continuing security.71
My suggestion, nonetheless, is that the new policies of individual and
international security are likely to be a continuing feature of politics in the
I 1st I What is Security? 15

post-Cold War period. The effort to make sense of them, and in particular
to make them less inclusive, is thereby of continuing importance. The changes
that led in the late eighteenth century to a new preoccupation with inter-
nationalization - the increase in news, in economic and cultural interdepend-
ence, in the effectiveness of international intervention, and in the consequent
political recognition of distant events - are also the preoccupations of the
end o f the twentieth century. There is very little, still, that corresporlds to
an international politics in which distant individuals are co-citizens, or co-
participants. But there is an international political society, of sorts, and it
imposes some form of reflection on the principles of international justice.
Policies for the prevention of violent conflict provide one illustration. The
idea of the prevention of nuclear war, as distinct from the deterrence of
nuclear offense, was of central importance to the Palme Commission's idea
of common security. A similar distinction can he made now between the
cooperative enterprise of prevention and the frightening or forceful enterprise
of deterrence: the deterrence of injustice or insecurity, or the enforcement of
rights. The discussion of new policies for collective security has been con-
cerned to a considerable extent, since 1991, with principles of "intervention":
with the circun~stancesunder which (in Condorcet's terms) governments
should employ force to establish principles in foreign countries. If there are
well-trained international forces, it is argued, prepared to intervene at the
early stages of crises, then military conflicts will he less likely to begin; if con-
flicts do begin, they will end earlier and with less ~ i o l e n c e . ~
' is deterrence,
of a new, enlightened, and internationalist complexion. But it is not the same
enterprise as prevention, or as the effort to ensure, whether with military or
nonmilitary instruments, that there will be no need to intervene.
One of the distinctive characteristics of prevention is that it takes place
under conditions of imperfect information, or before one knows with certainty
that a particular conflict (or a particular disease, in preventive public health)
will occur. This makes it a very difficult objective for international coopera-
tion. It is easier, often, to agree that a particular international problem is intol-
erable - that something must be done about it - than to agree either on
predictions as to the probability of future problems, or on general principles
of international policy. There are different explanations for the interest of
people in one country in "doing something" about injustice or insecurity in
other countries: that the problem is something they know about, for example;
that it is something they care about or identify themselves with; that there is
something they can do about it. But these explanations, or criteria, are difficult
to describe in a circumstanceless, universal idiom. One does not know that one
cares about something, or reflect on what one has it in one's power to do, until
one knows about some particular injustice or crisis: until the crisis, that is to
say, has already been described, or until (as Castlereagh said) it is no longer a
question of venturing to commit oneself on an "abstract" question, and there
is something "intelligible and practicable" to be done.
It is particularly difficult, therefore, for countries to agree in advance o n
the "resort to force" by the international community. As Castlereagh also
16 Widening Security

said, of the prospect of "unanimity and supposed concurrence upon all

political subjects" among the allies of 1820, "if this Identity is to be sought
for, it can only be obtained by a proportionate degree of inaction in all the
state^."'^ There is thus no evident relationship between the extent of consen-
sus about a particular military intervention and the efficiency of the inter-
vention in question. It is indeed often much easier to intervene efficiently at a
very early stage in a conflict, or when there is considerable uncertainty about
its future course; it is much more difficult, at that stage, to agree that inter-
vention is needed. The choice or use of nonmilitary instruments is, under
these circumstances, of considerable importance. It is difficult to conceive of
agreeing, in advance, to have military force used against one. This was one of
the (several) unconvincing features of early post-World War I1 schemes for
international government, in which recalcitrant participants were to be sanc-
tioned by the punitive use of force, including nuclear weapons. It is less diffi-
cult, perhaps, to agree on less coercive policies. National states do not, after
all, rely only or even principally on the use of force to ensure security for their
citizens. The incipient international society, too, should have recourse to civil
policies for preventing conflict.
Nonmilitary policies can be constructive as well as coercive. They include,
for example, policies for recognizing (or refusing t o recognize) new sover-
eignties. Recognition can be made conditional on guarantees for individual
rights, including the rights of members of minorities and other groups; coun-
tries can agree in advance to give themselves a space for reflection, of the sort
that was missing in the early stages of the current Balkan crisis, at the time of
the European Community countries' decision to recognize Croatia in 1991.
They can also agree on policies to support individual rights, as distinct from
punishing violations of these rights. These are policies in which people in the
countries where rights are at risk are co-participants with people elsewhere.
It is expensive, in many cases, to guarantee minority rights, to build schools
in which children can be educated in their first language, or to provide trilin-
gual education for all children. Such policies could also pose familiar prob-
lems of "moral hazard" (in that they would tend to reward countries in
which the rights of minorities are thought to be at risk). But international
expenditure on education is nonetheless an important component of policies
for individual security. It would be in the spirit of the plans of the 1780s and
1790s: of Condorcet's project of public instruction, for example, in which
children would be instructed in their own language, in an international lan-
guage, and in a third language of local imp~rtance.'~ The international society
of the 1990s should be in a position, eventually, to provide material support for
these old liberal projects.
Policies for demilitarization provide a related illustration. The new
security principles have been presented, since the end of the Cold War, as
especially suited to a period of postwar reconstruction. The problems of
demobilization in the 1990s are indeed similar to, and in some respects even
more serious than, those of earlier peace settlements. The period of intense
economic (and political) mobilization lasted for about four years in World
.. r l i What is Security? 17

War I, for about seven years before and during World War 11, and for
twenty-three years, intermittently, during the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic Wars; the Cold War mobilization lasted for more than forty
years, and it is correspondingly difficult to undo. But in other respects the
present postwar period is strikingly different. The Cold War was indeed a
long international conflict, but it was not a conflict that ended in the
exhaustion, celehration, and revulsion from rhc use of military fol-ce that
was characteristic of 18 1.5, I91 9, and 1945.
The God of War is defeated in Descartes' ballet of 1649, and the personi-
fication of Earth, whose limbs have been torn apart in an early scene, re-
appears restored and renewed. The Cold War has been followed, in contrast,
by a rediscovery of military force - by a demobilization of certain (principally
nuclear) forces, and by remilitarization of international relations. On the one
hand, the military forces of the two superpowers are more "usable" (in the
Gulf, or in Chechnya). On the other hand, military conflicts within or between
other, lesser powers are uninhibited by the prospect of an eventual superpower
confrontation. The promise of the end of the Cold War has been understood,
since the earliest negotiations for nuclear disartlianient, as the promise of
7 -
a world of peaceful political competition." It is the demilitarization of the
long conflict between a proto-revolutionary "Left" and a proto-reactionary
"Kight" that has made possible the revival of liberal internationalism. But the
post-Cold War conflicts have turned out to be at least as violent as the many
snlall wars of the previous generation. They are newly visible to (Western)
public opinion, at least in the case of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia; they con-
stitute a new challenge to the incipient institutions of international order in
that they have demonstrated the powerlessness of even a relatively united
international cornmunit); undivided by the superpower competition.
The process of demilitarization is, under these circumstances, of high
priority for policies of human, individual, o r common security. It is of par-
ticular importance in states that are themselves at peace, but that are the
source of means of violent destruction elsewhere. lnclividuals in Russia, the
United States, France, or the United Kingdom "bear a relation" to distant
wars (in Hunie's phrase) in that they are residents of states that license or
encourage very large-scale arms exports. One way to make conflicts less
violent is thus to sell and produce less military equipment. Both Somalia
and the fornier Yugoslavia have been important locations, for many years,
of military-industrial transactions. Yet the effort to reduce transfers of con-
ventional arms is of strikingly little political interest in the post-Cold War
world. "The right inherent in society to ward oft crimes against itself by
antecedent precautions," for John Stuart Mill, included a right to impose
precautions on the sale of articles, such as poisons, of which both proper
and improper use could be made (or which are "adapted to be instruments
of crime"). The seller, he says "might be required to enter in a register the
exact time of the transaction, the name and addrcss of the buyer, the pre-
cise quantity and quality sold; to ask the purpose for which it was wanted,
and record the answer he re~eived."'~There are similar precautions in
18 Widening Security

respect to articles that are adapted to be instruments of war: they should be

an important component of government and other groups' policies for
international security.

Civil Society Strategies

The most troublesome illustration of the new policies has to do with non-
governmental organizations, or with what has been described rather grandly
as the "civil society strategy."77The dislike of government power has been at
the center of all liberal thought. Its "historic beginning," in L.T. Hobhouse's
description, is to be found in protest, even in "destructive and revolutionary"
protest, against the "modern State."78 Condorcet's idyll, at the height of his
revolutionary career in 1792, was of the "virtual non-existence" of govern-
ment, or of "laws and institutions which reduce to the smallest possible quan-
tity the action of g ~ v e r n m e n t . "This
~ ~ dislike has been accompanied, for many
liberals, by a liking for that which is not government, and in particular for
elective or voluntary associations, for the "professions," "divisions," "com-
munities," and "callings" that the not notably liberal Adam Ferguson
described in his Essay on the History of Civil So~iety.~~' (The electiveness,
at least for early liberals, was more important than the nonidentity with gov-
ernment. For Adam Smith, as for Turgot and Condorcet, the coercive non-
governmental organizations of the eighteenth century - apprenticeship guilds
and corporations, for example - were even more insidious than government
Relations between nongovernmental organizations (and nongovernmen-
tal individuals) have been of central importance to the internationalization
of political life in the late twentieth century, as in the late Enlightenment.
The increase in news and information is the work of nongovernment, of
very large private companies, very powerful individual proprietors, profes-
sional societies with their codes of conduct, public relations companies, and
so forth. So also, to a great extent, is the increase in economic and cultural
influence. The power of individuals in one country to cause economic and
social change in other countries is the work of private companies (includ-
ing the companies that export military equipment) far more than of gov-
ernments: much as it was, indeed, at the time of Grotius's defense of the
(Dutch and English) view "that private men, or private companies, could
occupy uncultivated territory."s2 The increased effectiveness of policy is
itself a characteristic of the policies of nongovernmental organizations as
much as of governments and international organizations. There are private
organizations who negotiate cease-fires and hostage exchanges: private
charities (and large airlines) deliver emergency humanitarian relief, and
compete with government agencies for public (or government) funding to
do so.
The novel aspect of nongovernmental organizations in the 1990s is their
new political self-consciousness, or self-importance - the beginning of a
,I 1 What is Security? 19

political theory of the "NGO." The nongovernmental organization is iden-

tified, in such a theory, as the uncorrupt, the uncynical, or the unbureacratic.
Relations between individuals in different societies - including the relation-
ship between recipients and donors of foreign assistance - are supposed to
be conducted, wherever possible, through NGOs rather than through gov-
ernments (even when the NGOs are licensed by. governments,
. funded by
governments, and organized b y past and future government officials). Thc
"civil society strategy," in this setting, consists of the effort to organize inter-
national relations o n the basis of exchanges hetween organizations. It
"assumes that formal democracy is not enough." Its objectives include
"funding independent media" as well as "judiciary and police," "developing
charitable and voluntary associations," and "developing nongovernmental
channels" for government as~istance.~' At its most specific, it involves mate-
rial support from private foundations in the United States to voluntary
organizations and professional societies in Kussia." At its most imposing, it
involves the effort "to provide more space in global governance for people
and their organizations - for civil society as distinct from g o v e r n n ~ e n t s . " ~ ~
The new international politics of civil society, like the politics of individual
security, is founded on old and important political ideas. The most profound
of these ideas, and one that has been conspicuous in all the great peace
processes of the twentieth century, is the idea of multiple, overlapping iden-
tities. The engagement of individuals in organizations, professions, clubs, and
societies has been seen, at least since Montesquieu, as a principal sign of civ-
ilized and peaceable political life. For Turgot the characteristic "of being citi-
zens" was to be found, above all, in the "free associations" or "societies" of
which "England, Scotland and Ireland are full."x" This peaceable citizenship
was thought to provide some sort of security, in turn, against international
conflict. E. H. Carr spoke hefore the end of World War I1 of "a system of over-
lapping and interlocking loyalties which is in the last resort the sole alterna-
tive to sheer totalitarianism." His "social" or "functional" internationalism
was to be founded on what was earlier (and later) described as civil society:
"local loyalties, as well as loyalties to institutions, professions and groups
must find their place in any healthy society. The international community i f it
is to flourish must admit something of the same multiplicity of authorities and
diversity of loyal tie^."^'
World War I, too, was a period of anxious reflection on the politics of
civil society. Leonard Woolf, in a report p r e p r e d in 1916 for the Fabian
Society, saw in the "extraordinary and novel spectacle" of international vol-
untary associations the prospect of "true International Government." The
increase in such organizations, some of which (like the "Association Inter-
nationale pour la Lutte contre le Chbmage") included as their members
"states, municipal authorities, private individuals, and every sort and kind
of national group, society, and association," corresponded to the newly
international life of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Woolf
wrote that "A man's chief interests are no longer determined by the place he
lives in, and group interests, instead of following geographical lines, follow
20 Widening Security

those of capital, labor, professions, etc." Like Gentz, a century earlier, he

looked with some coolness at the assertion of national interest: "Over and
over again, when we analyze what are called national interests, we find that
they are really the interests, not of the national, but of a much smaller
group." The geometry of the new international security, as in the 1990s,
was to be distinctively variable. In the association against unemployment,
for example, Woolf found "both forms of representation, the vertical or
national and geographical and the horizontal or international, provided
Woolf describes himself as trying to edge away from the "terrible precipice
of Utopianism" (or from what Carr, during the next world war, identified as
the "idealistic view of a functional internationalism," which "would be
utopian if it failed to take account from the outset of the unsolved issue of
power"). He concedes that the delineation of the "international" is a matter
of practical politics, and he takes as an "actual example" the situations of
"the Bosnian" and of "the Englishman" in Ireland: "it is impossible to say
exactly when the Balkans became, and when Ireland will become, an inter-
national question."89 But his own political ideas, of the reinforcement of the
"system" of international conferences to protect the security of national
minorities, and of international cooperation to protect the economic security
of individuals and groups, were themselves put into a sort of practice in the
postwar settlement. One of the principal themes of reconstruction after
World War I, in the words of the Peace Treaty, was to prevent "such injust-
ice, hardship and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest
so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled"; the deci-
sion of the Great Powers to begin their Versailles deliberations by consider-
ing international labor legislation "produced a degree of surprise that almost
amounted to bewilderment."
The idyll of multiple, minimal identities is of poignant importance to
European political thought. It is described elegiacally in Robert Musil's
description of the "negative freedom" of "Kakania," or of the Austro-
Hungarian Monarchy of 1913: "the inhabitant of a country has at least
nine characters: a professional, a national, a civic, a class, a geographic, a
sexual, a conscious, an unconscious, and possibly even a private character
to boot. He unites them in himself, but they dissolve him. ... This permits
a person all but one thing: to take seriously what his at least nine other
characters do and what happens to them."9' But the innocuousness of the
unserious is too slight, in the end, as the foundation of civilized life. Musil's
prewar world is also the world of which Freud wrote in 1915 in "Thoughts
for the Times on War and Death" that its loss was the source of "our mor-
tification and our painful disillusionment." "The citizen of the civilized
world," Freud said, must now "stand helpless in a world that has grown
strange to him," with his great European fatherland disintegrated and "his
fellow-citizens divided and debased." "We hqd hoped, certainly, that the
extensive community of interests established by commerce and production
would constitute the germ of ... a compulsion" towards morality, Freud
said of the civil society of the prewar world; he found, instead, that
"nations still obey their passions far more readily than their interests. Their
interests serve them, at most, as rutionalizutions for their passions.""
The elective institutions of civil society were not enough, in the 191Os,
to prevent the violent enmity of war, and they are not enough, in any lib-
eral theory, to ensure the security of individuals. The new political theory
of the NC;O - the self-identification of nongovernment groups as the priv-
ileged source of human or individual security - is in this respect particularly
odd. The organizations that constitute international civil society can play
many important political roles. They can provide the international (and
local) information that is at the heart of the new politics of security; they
can cooperate in the schools, museums, and rights organizations that con-
tribute to policies for preventing violent conflict; they can put pressure on
governments to reduce arms production and exports; they can make pos-
sible the process of international political discussion, which is a precondi-
tion for international politics. But one of the things they cannot d o is
provide security. The essential characteristic of security is as a political rela-
tion, which is not voluntary, between the individual and the political coni-
munity. Security (or the opinion of security, in Montesquieu's account) is
the condition for political freedom. But it is the political choice to live under
the rule of law that is in turn the condition for security.
The doubting mood of the late Enlightenment tends to make one skepti-
cal, in general, of the presumption that NGOs are preternaturally other-
regarding or uncorrupt. Adam Smith reserved his coolest dislike, and his most
cheerful demonstrations of hidden self-interest, for the ostentatiously public-
spirited: parish overseers, university teachers, or Quaker slave-owners. The
new principles of security of the 1980s and 1990s have been put forward
with special enthusiasm by NGOs, and they are consonant with the not par-
ticularly hidden self-interest of these organizations. The "civil society strat-
egy," too, can be seen as the outcome of a coalition between governments
that wish to disengage from foreign assistance (despite the opposition of suh-
stantial minority opinion) and organizations with an interest both in improv-
ing other people's lives and in their own advancement. " NGOs are also, of
course, a kaleidoscopically heterogeneous politic:11 form. "Independent
media" are identified as a suitahle object of support in a civil society strategy,
and the presumption (in the case of assistance to the former Soviet Union) is
that they are to be independent of the state. Rut are they also to be indc-
pendent of large international oligopolies? O r of large and powerful propri-
etors? "War between two nations under modern conditions is impossible
unless you get a large number of people in each nation excited and afraid,"
Leonard Woolf wrote in 1916.94 News media, dependent and independent,
are rightly thought (as Chndorcet thought, and as Robespierre denied) to
constitute the core of a free civil society. They play a central role in (for ex-
ample) the prevention of famine. But they play a central role, too, in the
frightening process whereby very large numbers of people become excited
and afraid.
22 Widening Security

The main objection to NGOs as a source of security is even more foun-

dational. It may be reasonable to assume that individuals in NGOs are more
public-spirited, in general, than individuals in the public or the private for-
profit sector (if only because of the relentless vilification of public service in
the 1980s and 1990s, and the similarly relentless glorification of the pursuit,
within the private sector, of individual profit). But the serious problem with
the new political theory of NGOs has very little to do with the psychological
circumstances of individuals. It is a political problem, and it follows from the
defining characteristic of the NGO as a voluntary organization. There is a
stark inequality of voluntariness, in particular, between the "donors" and the
"recipients" of security. An international relief charity operating in the zone
of a civil war or a distant famine, for example, is made up of individual
volunteers (including people who have volunteered to be employed at low
salaries) and funded by voluntary contributions (including voluntary contri-
butions, from governments, of tax revenues). The individuals who receive
relief are in circumstances of the most extreme lack of voluntariness; they are
as far as one can be from the self-sufficiency of the individual will that is at
the heart of, for example, Kant's political theory.
The oscillation between the public and the private is a continuing and
prized quality of civil society. The new, multiple woman of late twentieth-
century political thought (the new mulier civilis) is a doctor, let us say, as well
as a Belgian, a Protestant, a volunteer, a mother, a member of an international
organization, a Walloon, a professional in private practice. Her theory, above
all, is to be found in Albert Hirschman's Shifting Involvements, with its evo-
cation of public action, overcommitment, and private disappointment.95 But
the richness of her public life is juxtaposed, under certain circumstances, to
the impoverishment of politics in very poor countries (or even in very poor
parts of rich countries). African Rights, in its harsh criticism of international
"humanitarianism" in Somalia, contrasts the public accountability of official
agencies with the voluntariness of NGOs: "while agencies such as UNICEF
and WHO have a duty to be present, the presence of NGOs is a privilege."
The relationship between people who provide and people who use "social
services and health care" is thus one of "goodwill" rather than of "contract."
Individuals become "passive recipients" of charity, and they are thereby made
even more insecure: "the insecurity of the relationship that results can also
undermine the effectiveness of the p r ~ g r a m m e . " ~ ~
The resilience of the metaphor of the political contract is associated, in
eighteenth-century liberal thought, with the implied equality of the con-
tracting parties, with the circumstance that the parties to the contract or
agreement are all more or less the same sort of men, whose "intentions" and
"reasonable expectations" can be the subject of reasoned di~cussion.~' The
earlier world of "status" (or of security as something to which one is enti-
tled by virtue of one's status) was a world in which men were unequal by
their birth. In the imagined world of Condorcet and other late eighteenth-
century liberals, men and women are equal at birth, and their subsequent
equality as reasoning parties is made possible by public instruction. This is
I 1 i What is Security? 23

enlightenment in the most literal sense, or freedom from the darkness in

which one cannot see through other people's intentions. But the world of
"goodwill," or of security as something that people enjoy not through sta-
tus, and not through contract, but rather through the good offices of civil
society, is inimical to this politics of enlightenment. The insidious character-
istic of guilds, for Adam Smith, was that they were protected by "public law,"
yet were impervious to public scrutiny. Only a beggar, he said, "chooses t o
depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens." y8
The international civil society, in a liberal theory of this sort, is a source of
enlightenment, civility, or of the investment in schools and museums that
might tend to prevent conflict, hut not of individual security. To the extent that
civil society and the politics of states (or empires) are opposed to each other,
as strategies or as models of postwar reconstruction, then security, both
individual and collective, belongs to the domain of the political. "Civil society
and markets alone did not assure the stabilization of Western democratic soci-
eties after 1945," as Charles Maier has said, and "they seem increasingly
unlikely to do so after 19X9."Y' They are even less likely to assure the inven-
tion of democratic society, or the common security of individuals.

Free a n d Equal Discussion

Liberalism is a political theory, not an idiom of political discussion. The

word "liberalism," according to Judith Shklar, "refers to a political doctrine,
not a philosophy of life. ... Liberalism has only one overriding aim: to secure
the political conditions that are necessary for the exercise of personal free-
dom.- loo The new politics of individual security (of "personal security" for
Boutros Boutros-Ghali) is in this sense a perfectly liberal enterprise. It is
most new, and most odd, in its international extent, in its insistence that the
persons whose freedom is to be secured include very remote persons, or
political foreigners. The liberal wishes to secure certain political conditions
for himself, and for persons whom he recognizes to be co-participants in a
political enterprise (to be the same sort of men). The international liberal has
the same objective, but he recognizes the oddest sort of people - here, there,
and everywhere.
It has been suggested that the "civil society strategy" is an insufficient
source of individual security because it is insufficiently political. The civil
society is (by self-definition) norgovernmental; individual security is (by the
definition of liberal political theory) both the objective of and the justifica-
tion for government. The civil society is the domain of the voluntary; indi-
vidual security is the justification for coercion. But the nongovernmental
society is itself of notably increased political importance in the post-Cold
War world. The new political theory of the NGO is indeed the assertion of a
new politics: the assertion that the "we" of civil society, or the nongovern-
mental and the noncoercive, is a constituent, and even a defining constituent
of political life.
24 Widening Security

The presumption of this essay has been that the idea of an international
politics is, if not straightforward, at least recognizable in a general sense. But
the connotation of the political - and thereby of the "political conditions" that
Judith Shklar refers to as the overriding aim of liberalism - is the subject of
familiar, persistent disagreement. In one sense, the political is indeed the
domain of organizations, individuals, and their political discussions. This is
the sense asserted in the new theories of civil society; it is Cicero's sense, too
(or one of Cicero's senses), of society as a place of teaching, learning, commu-
nicating, discussing, and reasoning, and of citizenship as a matter of public
places, temples, streets, laws, voting rights, friendships, and business con-
tracts.lOl In a different sense, however, the political is the domain of formal
(and coercive) political arrangements, of the "formal democracy," which in
the civil society strategy is "not enough," and of the state more generally, with
its laws, treaties, and declarations. In a further sense, the political is the
domain of political power, or the extent of what states can do, or can arrange
to have done.
A great deal of modern political thought is concerned, as it was between
the 1770s and the 1820s, with the relations between these three domains:
with the circumstance that the different domains of politics are not co-
extensive, but change in extent over time. The fundamental characteristic of
the state is as the location of political homogeneity; the nation is defined by
homogeneity of birth, race, blood, culture.102But political homogeneity is a
matter of (political) culture, of discussing and reasoning, as well as of for-
mal political arrangements. The extent of political power is very much less
than the extent of formal political arrangements, for some states, and very
much greater for others. Condorcet's prospect of governments that impose
principles by force in other countries was made possible by the new polit-
ical power of several European governments. This power had rather little to
do with formal political engagements. It was instead a consequence of tech-
nologies (such as canals), economic circumstances (such as the power to
raise taxes or borrow money), and political and military conditions (such
as the absence, at the time, of powerful opponents). Castlereagh proposed
to limit Britain's policies of intervention - her ~oliciesbeyond the domain
of formal political arrangements - to the "intelligible and practicable." The
intelligible corresponds to the political in Cicero's sense, of the subject of
discussion and concern within a political society. The practicable is the
political in the sense of present power, or of that which corresponds to the
circumstances of political power, at the present time and as understood by
the presently powerful.
The great liberal theory of the nineteenth century assumed a more orderly
relation between these three domains of the political. John Stuart Mill argued,
in support of "free and popular local and municipal institutions," that "the
management of purely local business by the localities" should be subject only
to the most general superintendence by "general government," including the
provision of information and the residual power of "compelling the local offi-
cers to obey the laws laid down for their guidance"; the result should be "the
greatest dissemination of power consistent with efficiency." Formal political
arrangements were to be organized in an orderly hierarchy of interests and
duties, and the domain of these arrangements was co-extensive with the
domain of political power. The wider political culture, too, was both influ-
enced by and an irlfluence on formal political arrangements. Mill was uncom-
promisingly opposed - and in this he followed closely Condorcet's arguments
on public instruction - to the idea of political education. But he saw in the
practice of local politics the source of the "llabits and powers" that are the
foundation of a "free constitution." ""
Mill's conception of political order has been o f profound importance to
subsequent liberal thought. It is even reflected, in the European law of the
1980s and 1990s, in the idea of "subsidiarity." There is an orderly and lib-
eral core to this turgidly obscure notion: there are different levels of govern-
ment, of differing generality, and each political function is to be undertaken
at the lowest (or least general) level that is compatible with efficiency or prac-
ticability.'""t is this hierarchy of political processes that has broken down in
the new international politics of the 1990s. There are two reasons, in English
political thought, to respect some version of the principle of subsidiarity. One
is the Burkean or historicist respect for convention; certain functions have in
the past been performed by certain levels of government, and the costs o f con-
stitutional change are likely to be prohibitively high. The other, which is
closer to Mill's, is founded o n reason: the functions of government should be
subject to continuing review in the light of changing circumstances, and they
should be assigned to the least general level that is efficient in these condi-
tions. The rationalist view of subsidiarity is the more compelling one. Rut it
imposes an unending reflection on constitutional principles, much as Leonard
Woolf's system of conferences imposed an unending reflection on the delin-
eation of the international. It also imposes a great deal of reflection on chang-
ing international circun~stances;on the circumstances that have changed so
prodigiously in the 1980s and 1990s.
The politics of individual securit); inside and outside Europe, is a case in
point. O n the one hand, because of the increase in international informa-
tion, the general interest in the security of distant individuals is great;
people know about distant horrors while they are still happening, or while
there is still rime to prevent them from happening. O n the other hand,
because of increased information, again, and because international inter-
ventions are no longer inhibited by the prospect of intercontinental military
conflict, the power o f distant states is also relatively great in relation to
these horrors. The power of local states, meanwhile, is very much dimin-
ished in many modern local conflicts. The distant states may therefore he
more "efficient" in protecting personal freedom, to use Mill's term, than the
local, formally constituted political authorities. The counterpart of the
mulier civilis (the new political woman of civil society) provides a dismal
illustration. If one is a Bosnian Muslim woman, then one's security is n o t
protected by virtue of one's political identity as a resident of a local con>-
munity, as a citizen o f the old Yugoslavia, or as a citizen of the new Bosnia.
26 Widening Security

One's other identities - as a European, as a member of an international reli-

gious community, as an individual with rights, or as a woman with rights -
provide weak protection. But the European Union, NATO, the International
Committee of the Red Cross, or the UN High Commission for Refugees
may actually have more power to ensure one's personal security than any
local or municipal political institutions.
The difficulty, in very general terms, is of a divergence between the dif-
ferent domains of the political. The extent of international political discussion
and power has increased enormously. But (formal) political institutions -
the hierarchy of international, national, regional, and local government -
have increased only minimally, and in many cases have become, as in Bosnia,
Somalia, Rwanda, and Chechnya, drastically less efficient. One prospect,
therefore, is of an extension and improvement in the formal institutions of
international government. This is the point of policies for the prevention and
demilitarization of conflict, and it is of particular importance in relation to
policies for individual or common security. Formal (contractual) commit-
ments to international programs of political and educational investment,
formal restrictions on military transactions, formal agreements in respect of
the recognition of sovereignty, and formal procedures for the protection of
internationally recognized rights constitute the germ (to use Freud's word)
of a compulsion to international government. I am not referring to Leonard
Woolf's "true International Government" of 1916, made up of voluntary
associations; I mean something even more currently unfashionable, in the
form of international laws and international authorities with the power of
compelling other officers to obey those laws.
The state, including the incipient international state, has been the object
of criticism in the 1980s and 1990s by an imposing political coalition of the
Right and the Left. Its commitments are very often no more than scraps of
paper; there is "overwhelming evidence that modern national governments
cannot and will not observe international treaties or rules of international law
when these become burdensome or dangerous to the welfare or security of
their own nation," E.H. Carr wrote in 1945.1' But there is little alternative,
at least in policies for individual or common security, to the reconstruction of
state authority. The single most important element in this reconstruction, for
international state institutions, would be the power to raise tax revenues, or
at least to receive, "automatically," some share of the revenues raised by
national, regional, or local governments. The most important form of coer-
cion, in the historical development of national states, was the coercive power
of fiscality; it would be the most important power of international institu-
tions as well.
In The Man without Qualities, Musil says that the timid diplomat Tuzzi
"regarded the state as a masculine subject one did not discuss with women,"
and the political objective of rediscovering the state is quite remote from the
objectives of the new, multifarious civil society.lo6 But the state itself is dis-
tinctively multifarious in the post-Cold War world. One consequence of the
extension of international political society, or of political discussion, is thus
1 I , What is Security? 27

a new disrespect for the prior wisdom of states and their officers. When
Castlereagh speaks of different policies as "practicable" or "impracticable" -
o r when Mill speaks of the "efficient" dissemination of power - the tone is of
privileged insight into government finances and opportunities. This tone of
effortless self-confidence has been repressed, perhaps beyond recovery, in the
past decades of criticism of all the nonmilitary activities of the state (at least
in England, the United States, a n d the former Soviet Union). The state is also
a largely and increasingly feminine institution a t the end of the twentieth
century. The traditionally masculine functions of collecting taxes and organ-
izing wars have heen conspicuously in retreat. It is the traditionally feminine
state functions of local government, education, and social security that are
most resilient; it is these functions, too, that would be reproduced in the new
institutions of international government.
The international politics of individual security would be more orderly,
in some respects, if the institutions o f formal political commitment were
extended in this way. Rut the international political society will still impose
a new and prodigious tolerance for political disorder. There is some inter-
est, among the theorists of civil society in the 1990s, in the Stoic metaphor
of political identity as an array of concentric circles, in which the individ-
ual feels progressively less committed to her progressively more general
political identities (as a member of a family, a local community, a region, a
nation, an international community, and so forth). Adam Smith took some
interest in this metaphor, too, a t least a s a way of questioning the Stoic idea
of universal political benevolence.'"' B u t the modern identities with which
we have been concerned suggest that the array of commitments is very
much less orderly than the metaphor would indicate. I t is a set of ellipses,
perhaps, o r a n Epicurean universe, in which the location of the "I" swerves
and lurches over time. It leads t o a politics, in turn, that is subject in a quite
novel respect to whim and t o chance.
"Men are vain of the beauty of their country, of their county, of their
parish," Hunle says in his account of the relation hetween objects and pas-
sions; they are also vain of climate, of food, "of the softness o r force of their
language," of the qualities of their friends, of the beauty and utility of dis-
tant countries (based o n "their distant relation t o a foreign country, which
is formed by their having seen it and lived in it"). But the modern politics
of relatedness is more disordered, or more accidental, than in even Hume's
imagination. For Hume, "a beautiful fish in the ocean, an animal in a
desert, and indeed anything that neither belongs, nor is related to us, has n o
manner of influence on our vanity.""'Vn the modern theory of inter-
national (environmental) security, even the beautiful fish is related t o inter-
national politics. It is quite plausible, for example, that the individual
participants in the new civil society should feel related, and even passion-
ately related to far-off fish in distant oceans. It is plausible, too, that these
voluntary passions should come and g o with the accidents of information.
One joins the society for the protection of fish because one happens t o
have lived, as a child, near the zoo. O r one votes for a party that supports
28 Widening Security

environmental assistance because one saw a television program about fish

the night before the election.
The accidental politics of the 1990s poses new and serious difficulties
for political theory and practice. Some of these difficulties were anticipated
in earlier periods of political turbulence: Condorcet, for example, devoted
great ingenuity to devising constitutional schemes whereby decisions could
be drawn out, delayed, or reversed. Other difficulties are very largely new:
they are such as to set the impartial regulation of broadcasting and of the
new television, communications, and newspaper oligopolies at the very
center of present politics. But the most disturbing of the new requirements
is to discover a new tolerance for the accidental in politics. This is a very
Humean politics, and Hume indeed observed (in his account of accidents
from the point of view of the theory of knowledge) that "the custom of
imagining a dependence has the same effect as the custom of observing it
would have."lo9 Politics, like everything else in life, is a kingdom of emo-
tions and customs, of the aesthetic and the accidental. A politics of this sort
is profoundly disconcerting in the terms of even the most minimal liberal
thought. For liberalism, like the new politics of the 1990s, is about security:
about ensuring the conditions for personal liberty. And security requires the
predictability and repetitiveness that are the endless propensities of the
state. That is why the rediscovery of the (international) state is at the heart
of the politics of individual security. But the state to be rediscovered will be
a very different sort of state - more Humean and more complicit in an
unpredictable political society.
"All the Gods who are deliberating on peace" in the last part of Descartes'
ballet about the Treaty of Westphalia decide that Pallas, or wisdom, is their
only recourse: "Our interests are so diverse1 That we are not to be believedl
In anything to do with glorylAnd the good of the entire universe." Pallas is
the personification of Queen Christina, and she combines "prudence" with
"valour," and is thereby free of the risk of "too much assurance" or "too
much warmth."l1 These quite minimal political virtues are also the useful
virtues of the present postwar world. It is the disengagement of politics from
militarism, or from military assurance, that has disengaged the old liberalism
of the late Enlightenment. There is a "crisis of liberal internationalism" in the
1990s, and there is an even more serious crisis of conservatism, which revered
nothing in the state, excepting only its military power.

The disorderly world of the new international politics - of politics in the

sense of an international political society - is full of danger for this sort of
conservatism. But it is full of hope for liberals. Franqois Guizot, one of the
great nineteenth-century liberals (and conservatives), wrote of the "epoch of
transition" of the 1850s that democracy "is habitually dominated by its inter-
ests and passions of the moment" and is, of all social powers, the "most obedi-
ent to its present fantasies, without concern for the past or the future.""l
But this disorder is also the condition for the entire, subversive enterprise of
political liberalism. In Mill's famous words, "liberty, as a principle, has no
I ? ~ t l . i iihiti What is Security? 29

application to any state o f things anterior to the time when mankind have
become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion."'12 We have
very little idea, still, o f what free and equal discussion amounts to, between
groups and societies as well as between individuals. But we are in the process
of finding out.


1 . Earlier verslons o f thi\ p.lper were presented at the initi'll meeting of the Cornmon S e c u r q
Forum in 1992, and at the 1993 Oslo meeting of the <:ommis\ion o n Global Governance. I am
grateful for comments fronl James C:ornford, A~nartyaSen, arid (iareth Stedman Jones. m d for
discuss~o~is with Lincoln Chen, Marianne Heiherg, Mary Kaldor, and the late Johan Jdrgcn Holst.
I would a l w l ~ k eto thank the John I).and Catherine T. MIicArth~1rFoundat~onfor wpport to
the Centre for History and Fconomics and to the Common Secur~tyForum.
2. (:hLlrles Ad;im, "Vie de Descnrres." in i:li,~rlcs Adam, ed., O c u ~ w stie L)escnrtes.
vol. u ~ (Paris:
i I.6opold Cerf, 19 IO), ,542-44.
3. Harold N~colson,I'alcc~ninkrn~191'1 (1.ondon: C o n ~ t ~ ~ h19331, le, 32.
4. St,lnley Hoffmann, "The Cr1si5o f 1.iheral Intern,ir1onal1\111,"Foreign Policy ( 9 8 ) (Spr~tig
199.5): 163.
5. M ~ c h a e lIg~utieff,"On <:rvil Soc~ety," Forri,y~lAfjLlirs 7 4 ( 2 ) (MarchiApril 199.5):
l i.5-36.
6. Henry A. Kis\inger, 11 \Yrorld Restored ( N e w York: (;ros\rr and Dunlap, 19641, 3.
7. Viclav H.~vel,Sunrn~c~r M c d ~ t i ~ t i o n(New
s York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), 33. hlill t ~ l k s
of "the sovereignty of the ind~wdu,tlover himself," a n d of thc condition t h ~ "over t Ii~mself,
over his own hody .lnd mrnd, the i~idividu,il is sovereig~i." Sec John S t ~ ~ aMill. r t O w /.ihwt?'
(1.ondon: Pengu~n,1 Y74), h9,14 1.
8. See, for e u m p l e , tlie \peeell hy President Clinton at the United N a t ~ o n so n 2 7 September
19'1.3, and speeihe\ hy Under Secretary of State Timothy F.. W~rtlia t the United N,lrion\ o n 30
March 1994, and at the N,ltionc~lI'rcss <:lub in WSlsh~ngton,I).(.. on 12 July 1994.
9. The <:ornmiss~ono n (;loh,ll <;overn,lnce, O ~ r (r ; l o / ~ lNcighbourhood (Oxford: ( ~ h f o r d
Lln~versityI'rcss, 1995), 78.
10. Ilnired Progr.lrn, t-11trm711I ) ~ ~ l o p n i c 1094 ~ i t (Oxford: Ouforci
University Press, 1994), 3. 22-2.3.
I I. "The Ut~ltrdNations was founded 50 year5 go to ensure the territorial wcurit) of
nie~nherstates. ... What i\ now under \lege is so~netli~tig d~ttcrenr,"or "personal security" -
Boutros Koutro\-<;hali, "l.ct3s get togetlicr to halt tlie unr.lvelling o f society." lntc~rrii~trort~rl
H e r ~ ~ lTrrhurw,
ti I 0 Febr~1.1ry1 995.
12. The Independent <.onimis\ion o n Ihs,lrlnamenr and e c u r ~ t yIssues, Commor7 Srrrlrrty:
A B l ~ r r p ~ r nfor
t S~irtvviil(New York: S~iiionand Schusrcr, 1982), ix, xvi, 4, 1 .?9. The word
"survival" was evidently t h o ~ ~ g htot h'ive partict~ldr~ p p e in ~ l the United States, slnce the
eci~rionpublished In Engla~itihad ,I different title: Conrnzori Sr(-ztrity: A I'rogri7mme f;)r 111s-
izrmirwtcnt (I.ondori: Pan Kooks, 19831.
1.3. R i c h ~ r d H. Ullman, "Redefining Security," 111 Sean M. Lynn-Jones ,lnci Steven
E. Miller, eds., (;lobnl Dizn,qtvx (,'hilnging D r n ~ m s i o n sof Irrtr~~rmtional S ~ c r ~ r i (C~~rnhridge,
Mass.: MlT Pre\s. 1995), 38.
14. E. H. Carr, N~ltio?ztz/rs~~~ mii Aftrr (London: hlr~crnillan,I94.5), 36, 5 8 , .5 I, 67-7 I .
15. John Hicks, "Maintaining (:.ipiral Intact: a F ~ ~ r t h Suggest~on,"
er Economics IX (New
Ser~es)( 3 4 ) (May 1942): 175, a Begrrffsgc~sc/~irhtr,or a history o t concepts, is also ,I hi\tory
of w h o it IS who Ihs the concepts.
16. Lord Castlereagh's <.onfidenr~.llStatc Paper ot May itli, 1820," in Sir A.W. W,lrd and
G.I? Gooch, cds., T l ~ rC'ln~brlri~c.Hlstory of British F o r c i g ~Policy ~ 178j-1919. vol. I1
((:alnhridge: C,imhrrdge U n ~ v e r s i tPress,~ 19231, app. A. 632.
17. Il)~d.,627-29, 632.
30 Widening Security

18. Sir J.A.R. Marriott, Castiereagh: The Political Life of Robert, Second Marquess of
Londonderry (London: Methuen, 1936), 299.
19. Michael Howard, "Reassurance and Deterrence," Foreign Affairs 61 ( 2 ) (Winter
1982-1983). Common security, too, was presented as a "slogan," a "way of thinking about
security," or as a source of "the words that convince and reassure"; see Emma Rothschild,
"Common Security and Deterrence," in Stockholm International Peace Research Institute,
Policies for Common Security (London: Taylor and Francis, 1985), 92, 101.
20. See Stephen J. Del Rosso Jr., "The Insecure State: Reflections on 'the State' and
'Security' in a Changing World," Dadalus 124 (2) (Spring 1995): 187-93.
21. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 184.
22. Letter of 15 June 1820, in DipGches intdrtes du Chevalrer de Gentz aux Hospodars de
Valachie, vol. I1 (Paris: E. Plon, 1877), 62-63.
23. Friedrich Gentz, On the State of Europe before and after the French Revolution, trans.
John Charles Herries (London: J. Hatchard, 1804), 386.
24. Letter of 1705 in Die Werke von Lezbniz, vol. IX, ed. Onno Klopp (Hannover:
Klindworth, 1864-1873), 143.
25. Montesquieu, De l'esprit des lois (1748), bk. XII, chap. I1 (Paris: Garnier, 1973),
vol. 1, 202.
26. "securitatem autem nunc appello vacuitatem aegritudinis, in qua vita beata posita est" -
Cicero, "Tusculan Disputations," V. 42; Lexicon Taciteum, ed. Gerber and Greef (Leipzig: 1903).
Tacitus does also use "securitas" in something closer to the modern, collective sense when he
speaks of giving "safety and security" to Italy ("salutem securitatemque Italiae"): Hist.III.liii.
27. Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 156, 290; Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the
Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976), 412.
28. Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality insti-
tuted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against
those who have none at all." Smith, Wealth of Nations, 715. It is interesting that Condorcet,
writing in the same year, had a different view: "It is not only to defend those who have some-
thing against those who do not that the laws of property are made; it is above all to defend
those who have a little, against those who have a lot." Condorcet, Reflexions sur le commerce
des bles (1776), in Oeuvres de Condorcet, vol. XI, ed. A.C.OIConnor and M.F. Arago (Paris:
Didot, 1847-1849), 189.
29. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 689. Smith does say later, in discussing expenditure on just-
ice, that when defense becomes very costly, it becomes necessary "that the people should, for
their own security," contribute through taxes to the sovereign's costs. Ibid., 718.
30. "The security which it gives to the sovereign renders unnecessary that troublesome jeal-
ousy, which, in some modern republics, seems to watch over the minutest actions, and to be at
all times ready to disturb the peace of every citizen." Ibid., 707. The individual security of the
sovereign is again a Roman preoccupation: Seneca, addressing the Emperor Nero in De Clementia,
commiserates with Nero for his misfortune in not being able to walk in the city unarmed, but
assures him that he would be better protected by the love of his fellow citizens than by moun-
tains and turrets; a policy of clemency would provide "more certain security," or the security
that comes from a mutual contract in security ("securitas securitate mutua paciscenda est") -
Seneca, De Clem., I.viii.2-6, I.xix.5-6.
31. As Stephen Holmes says, "security was the idee maitresse of the liberal tradition." See
Stephen Holmes, Passions and Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy (Chicago, Ill.:
The University of Chicago Press, 1995), 245.
32. "Projet de Diclaration des droits naturels, civils et politiques des hommes" (1793), in
Oeuvres de Condorcet, vol. XII, 418-19; Franck Alengry, Condorcet Guide de la Rkvolution
Francaise (Paris: Giard and Briere, 1904), 405.
33. "Patriotische Aufsatze in Folge des Ryswycker Friedens - Assecuranzen" (1697), in
Leibniz, Werke, vol. VI, 231-33.
i What is Security? 31

34. "Sru ICS C ~ I S S ~d S' i 7 i ~ ~ - ~ ~ n ~ t r( l1790),

~ ~ t i o i111~ "Oerivrrs de Condorret, vol. XI, 401; see
k h m a Rothschild, "Economic security ,lnd social secur~ty,"p p e r prepared tor the UNRISD
Conference on R e t h i n k ~ n g Soci,ll Development, Centre tor History and Economics,
Camhrldge, March 1995.
3.5. Judith Shklar, "The 1.iberalism of Fear," in Nancy I.. Rosenhlum, ed., L.rl~cral~snzanti
the Moral l i f e (Cambridge. Mass.: Harvard University Press. 19891, 21.
16. For Condorcet or Sm~rh,as tor Hayek in The Road to Scrfdom, there is a good and a
b.ld \aI-lety o f ~nd~vndnal sccug-try, a \ w c ~ a t r drr\pectivcly with "rhc c<,mnicrcial an'{ t h c rnilit.~ry
tvpc of society." T'he good security, tor Hayek, includes "the certainty of a glven mminium of
tustcnance for all"; the h,~dsecurity 1s "the security o f the h.~rracks." See Friedrich A. Hayck,
T h e Road t o Serfifom (Chiwgo, 111.: University of C h ~ c a g oPress, 1944), 120, 126-27.
37. "Rhflrxrom srtr Ic roi~nncri-eties 111~;s"(177h), in O e u ~ w de s Condorcet, vol. XI, 167.
38. Richard 'I'uck, "'l'he Stcite System as a M ~ r r o rot the Stare of Nature," (Ientrc for
History and Economics, C'lmbridge, 1989.
39. Frit7 D~ckrnann,Der Westfalrschc Frreden (Munster: Aschendorff, 1972).
40. J.G. Herder, "Philosophic iier (;rschic/~te"( 17741, in J.G. Herder, Simzmtlrd~eWerke.
vol. V, ed. R. Suph'ln (Berlin: 1891), ,521, 548; see also 498, 556.
4 1. Jean-J,icques Rou\sr,lu, "Dri Contract Soc~ial"(first vers~on)In Jean-Jacques R o u s s c . ~ ~ ~ ,
O e c t ~ w sConzpletcs, vol. 111 (Paris: (;allimard, 19641, 290. See also Rousseau's d e s c r ~ p ~ oofn
the social pact: "The first object which men have proposed to one another in thc c~vilconfed-
eration has been their m u t ~ ~ ,security,
ll that is to say the g i i a r ~ n r e eof the life and liberty ot each
hy the entire comniunity." Je,ln-Jacques R o ~ ~ s s e a"Frapncnts u, I'olrtiy~res," in Rousseau, Ocrc~~res
(:ornpletc,s, 486.
42. "War is thus in no respect a relation hetween men. hut a relation between St,ltrs, In
whlch i n d i v i d u d ~'Ire only enemier by ,icc~dent,in n o respect as men or even as cit~zens,hut '1s
soldiers." Rousscau, " D u (:ontrac-t Social." 3.57. Hume expressed doubt, considerahly e,lrlier,
ahout the respects in which natlons could he considered to he l ~ k eindiv~duals:"l'oliticc~l writ-
ers tell us, that in every kind of Intercourse, a body p o l ~ t ~ISct o he considered as one person;
,ind indeed this assertioti 1s \o t,lr I L I \ t~h, ~ ditferent
t n'ltlons. as well as private persons, require
11111t~1al xsistance; dt the u m e t~riicthat their selfishness and ,lmbition are perpetual sources ot
war ~ n discord.
d But though tiations in this particular resemhle individuals, yet ... they ire very
different in other respects." I>,lvid Hume, A Trratrse of Hrrmrrn Nature (1739) (Oxford: Oxtord
Unlvcrs~tyPress, 1965), 567.
43. Immanuel Kant, " / d m 211 crner a l l ~ e w z ~ i n r(n; e s d ~ r i h t eIn welthiirg~~rlrc~~er i\/mc-ht"
( 1784), in Immanuel K m t , W/erkausgal~e,vol. XI, ed. W. Weischedel (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp,
l9h8), 42-44; Kant's PoIrtr~-r~l Wrltiirgs, ed. Hans K e i ~ s(<:,lmbridge: C a m h r ~ d g eUniversity
Press, 1 970), 47-49,
44. "Projet il'une exposrtron ( i t s motifs" (1792), in Ocrcrws tic, Condorret, vol. X , 4.54.
4.5. I'arls Peace Treaty of 30 M\il;ly I8 14, Statement of 18 October 18 14. in A(-ten des
W v n c ~ (:on,yrcsses,
r vol. I, ed. Kluher (Erlangen: 1819), 9, 36.
46. "F.xper~nicnts" In constitution,~l reform, ,lnd even the extension of "Dernocr,~tic
l'rincipler" ("then a \ now, but too ge~~erally spread throughout Furope") were thus not in t h e n -
selve? a s~~fficient reason tor ~nrernationalintervention. Cxtlereagh, "State Paper," 626-27.
47. Franqois Furet, Pcirsc~la Khr~olrctlonfran~arse (Pan\: (;allinlard, 19781, 253.
48. Ell\aheth and Robert Badinter quote a manuscript note of Condorcet's from 179 1, in
which the c o ~ n p o s ~ t i oont two different cabinets IS cons~dered,with reshuffling of S~eyCs,
Rochefoucauld, and Roederer, but with "Talleyrand ,lnd Condorcet keeping the same portfo-
l i o ~ . "Elisaheth B.tciinter and Rohert Badinter, Coizttorcc~t:r r i r rntellectttal el7 politiqrte (P'lr~s:
F'lynrd, 19881, ,347.
49. Peregrine Worsthornc, "l.~heralismis the real enemy," Srrniiay Telegraph, 18 Octoher
50. J i n o s KIS, "Progrnn~of Action in Eavour of Hung,lrian Mlnorit~esAbroad," i l l J;inos
Kls, Politics in Hungary: For a ll~nrocr~ztrc Alternatl~~e (New York: Columbia IJn~vers~ty
Press, 19891, 21.3.
32 Widening Security

51. H a d , Summer Meditations, 98.

52. William Safire, "Singapoverty," The New York Times, 2 February 1995.
53. "De I'influence de la r~volutiond'Amtrique sur I'Europe" (1786), in Oeuvres de
Condorcet, vol. VIII, 5-6, 14. The language o f 1948 is similar: "all human beings are born free
and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience ... Everyone
has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." Universal Declaration o f
Human Rights (December 1948) (New York: United Nations, 1986),art. 1 and 6.
54. They were "Schutzgenossen": Immanuel Kant, "Theorie und Praxis" (1793),in Kant,
Werkausgabe, vol. XI, 150-51; Reiss, ed., Kant's Political Writings, 77-78.
55. The object o f the leaders o f the French Revolution, in Tocqueville's famous phrase, was
to "cut in two their destiny," or to separate "by an abyss" what they were to become from what
they once had been. A. de Tocqueville, L'ancien regime et la revolution (1856),ed. J.-P. Mayer
(Paris:Gallimard, 1967), 43.
56. Adam Smith wrote scathingly in the Wealth of Nations o f the citizens o f prosperous
empires who in wartime "enjoy, at their ease, the amusement o f reading in the newspapers the
exploits o f their own fleets and armies." Smith, Wealth of Nations, 920.
57. Henri Brunschwig, La crise de l%tat Prussien a la fin du XVIlle siecle et la genese de
la mentalite romantique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1947), 36-42; see also
Richard van Diilmen, The Society of the Enlightenment: The Rise of the Middle Class and
Enlightenment Culture in Germany, trans. Anthony Williams (Cambridge:Polity Press, 1992),
83-92, 165-72.
58. Speech o f 28 October 1792, in Oeuvres de Maximilien Robespierre, vol. IX (Paris:
Presses Universitaires de France, 1958), 48-49, 53.
59. Herder, "Philosophie der Geschichte," 5 4 5 4 6 .
60. Gentz, O n the State of Europe, 38-39.
61. Castlereagh, "State Paper," 632.
62. "Aux Germains" (1792), in Oeuvres de Condorcet, vol. XIS, 155-56; "La Nation
fran~aisea tous les peuples" (1793), in Ibid., vol. XII, 510.
63. Castlereagh, "State Paper," 627-29.
64. Hume, Treatise, 303, 307.
65. William Playfair, A letter to the Right Honourable and Honourable the Lords and
Commons of Great Britain, on the advantages of apprenticeships (London: T.C. Lewis,
1814), 31.
66. See J.R. Oldfield, Popular Politics and British Anti-Slavery: The mobilisation of public
opinion against the slave trade 1787-1 807 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995),
67. "De I'infktence de la rivolution d'Amerique," in Oeuvres de Condorcet, vol. VIII, 13.
68. Immanuel Kant, "The Contest o f Faculties" (1798), in Reiss, ed., Kant's Political
Writings, 182, 184-85.
69. Adam Smith, Lectures onJurisprudence, ed. R.L. Meek, D.D. Raphael, and P.G. Stein
(Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1978),403, 318-21.
70. "Sur les Assemblies Provinciales" (1788),in Oeuvres de Condorcet, vol. VIII, 471-75;
"Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progris de 1'Esprit Humain" (1793-1794), in Ibid.,
vol. V I , 244.
71. See Jennifer Montana, "Human Security," Common Security Forum, Harvard Center
for Population and Development Studies, June 1995; African Rights, Humanitarianism
Unbound?, African Rights Discussion Paper No. 5, 11 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 lEP,
November 1994.
72. See Brian Urquhart, " A UN Volunteer Military Force," The New York Review of
Books, 10 June 1993.
73. Castlereagh, "State Paper," 629, 631.
74. "Sur I'instruction publique" (1791-1792), in Oeuvres de Condorcet, vol. VII, 5 3 4 4 1 .
75. This was Olof Palme's position, for example, at the signing o f the first Helsinki accords
in 1975: when Giscard D'Estaing said that the countries o f Europe could now stop quarrelling,
Palme argued that "now we have agreed not to kill each other, we can really begin to quarrel."
76. Mill, O n I ~ b e r t y ,167.
77. Sec Ignat~rff,"On (:ivil Society," 135-36.
78. L.T. Hohhouse, L2iherulrstn (l.ondon: Williams and Norgate, 1919), 18-19.
79. " l k 10 Nrrture dcs I'rnrl~orrs Politiqwes dans tin<. Nntron Lihre" (1792), in Oeuvres de
Condorcc~,vol. X, 607.
80. Adam terguson, An E~SLIJ' rin the History of Crud Socrrty (1767) (Edinburgh:
Ed~iihurghUnivers~tyPres\, 196h), 2 17-10. See also Sunil Kh~ln'lni, "The Development of
C:~vtl Soc~rty,"World I n s t ~ r t i ~tor c Ocvclopmcnt Economics liescarch and Centre for History
~ n Economics,
d 1994.
8 1. See Ernni,i Rothsch~ld,"Adlm Smith, Apprentice5hip and Insecurity" (Canibrldge: Centre
for I iistory and Ikmomics, 1994).
82. Tuck, "'Phe State System," 8.
83. Ignatieff, "On Civil Society."
84. See Kcnnerte Benedict, "A Cold I'eace: US-Russian Rel,it~onsin a New Era," The John D.
and Cnthcr~neT. MacArthul- Foundation, February 1995.
85. C.omrnis\~onon Glohal Governance, O w Global Ni,rXhbourhood, 2.76.
86. A.R.J. Turgot, 0err1~rr.sde Tnrgot et Dorumetrts le (:cmccrnunt, vol. I, ed. G . Schelle
(Paris: Alc'in, 19 13-1 923). 587, 592.
87. <.,1rr, N~7tron~rlism ' Z I I ~Afier. 49, 59.
88. L.S. Woolt, lntermtron~rl Goveunrnent (New YorL: Brentano, 1916), 152, 170.
3 5 2 - S , 3.57. The Jssoclatlon ng,linst uneniploymcnt, for ex,imple, "numbers among ~ t meni- s
her\": 8 governments, 5 9 towns, 12 ~ ~ n e r n p l o y ~ n funds, ent 8 provinces, 1.5 scientific societies,
6 eniployers' fcderat~ons,30 labor federations, m d ~ n d i v d ~ ~ from a l c 2 3 countries.
89. Woolf'5 "practical standpoint" thus leads him t o ;i\k "whether there is, t h ~ s ~ d cof the
ye'ir ot our Lord 2000, the sl~ghtestpossibility of the Rririh Empire and R u s s ~ aenterlng ,In
~ntertiariotialsystem in which the future position of It~dians,I r d i ~ n e n and , F ~ n n sIn the respec-
tive Empires is to he decided , ~ some t sort of international conference." Woolf, lnterrr~tiotrill
Gr~lwrnment.34-38, 357; Lirr, N~ztrorr~ilrsm anti After, 50-5 1 .
90. Quoted in Douglas G'llbi, "International Aspects of S o c ~ Reform ~l 111 the lriterwnr
I'er~od" (C::irnhr~dge:Common Security t o r u m , Centre for I-li\tory and Economics, IL)93);the
retere~iceto pc,lcc : ~ n dharmony I \ In the preamble to p,lrt 1.3 of the Treaty.
91. Rohert M u d , 7%? h l m ~ort/~orit C)uirlrties, vol. 1 (19,521, trans. Sophie U'ilLins
(New York: Alfred 12. Knopt, 1995), 30-3 1.
92. Sigmund trcud, "T'ho~~ghtsfor the Tinics o n W,lr ,lnd Lkath" (1915), In Sigmund
Freud, TIJOStizn(irrrd Edrtu~n.vol. XIV, ed. lames Strachey ( I ondon: The Hog,lrrh Press, 19.57),
280. 28.5. 288.
9.3. Afric:un R~ghrs, in I [ \ critique of "Posr-Cold WJI- Hunianitarlanism," s ~ y sthat
"Western donor\' strategic . ~ n dcommercial Interest in poor countries is d e c l ~ n ~ n gtheir ; chief
concern is increas~nglyt o avoid had publicity a t home from h ~ m ~ i n i t a r i acrises n once they have
r televisior ... relief 'igcncies are exp,~ndinginto a void lett hy the contracting power of
h ~ the
host government\ ,ind the tieclin~ngpolltical interest of western powers." African Kiglits,
Hunranrtarrrz~1isrl21Inl)orrntii. 0.
94. Woolf, lntcr~ratronnl<;oui~rtrtnmt,13.3.
9.5. Albert 0. Ilirschni,ln, S h r f t r n ~Int~ol~ienrc~nts: I'rrl~irtc lntrrest a n d Public A ~ t r o n
(Princeton, N.1.: I'rmceton Univcrs~tyI'res\, 1982).
96. Afric:in Rights, H~rri1~7trrtnrr~ztt1s117 Unhounti?, IS, 1 3 . ( ; ~ r e t hSted~nanJones quotes the
wenr of Sir <:li,lrles Trevelyan, "the doyen of relief experts a n d ,I veteran of the Irish tarnine,"
on charity t o the I.ondon poor in 1870: "By passlng through offici'll hands ... the gift lows the
redeeming influence of per\on,ll k~ndnessand the rcc~pientreg'lrds it, not as charity hut J S a
Iarge\sc t o which he has a right." This is also the rel,~t~onship described hy Marcel M ' i ~ ~ s s"to:
give is to show one's supcrlorlty.... To accept without returning or repaying more, IS to face
s ~ ~ b o r d i n a t i oto
n , become J c l ~ e n t.ind subservient": <;areth Stedman Jones, Outc~7st1.0ndon:
A Study in the Kclirtionshrp hc~tu~ren Climes in Vic-tor~mSo(-i~ty(M~ddlesex:I'enguin Rooks,
1 984), 244, 2.52-5 3.
97. See, for cu,lniple, S n i ~ t h I.cctrtres
, o n /urisprcr~icncc,87-102, 318-2 1 .
34 Widening Security

98. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 27.

99. Charles Maier, "Stabilizing Europe, 1918-1945-1989: Three Post-war Eras in Com-
parison" (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Center for European Studies, paper prepared for a confer-
ence at the University of Keele, March 1995), 34.
100. Shklar, "The Liberalism of Fear," 21.
101. "docendo, discendo, communicando, disceptando, iudicando" - Cicero, De Officiis,
1.50, 1.53.
102. Istvan Hont, "State and Nation in the French Revolution" (Cambridge Centre for
History and Economics, 1995); "The Permanent Crisis of a Divided Mankind: 'Contemporary
Crisis of the Nation State' in Historical Perspective," in Contemporary Crisis of the Nation
State ?, ed. John Dunn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).
103. Mill, On Liberty, 181, 185-86; on Mill and Condorcet, see Emma Rothschild,
"Condorcet and the Conflict of Values," Historical ]ournal (forthcoming).
104. "Community institutions should only be given the powers they require to perform
those tasks which they can carry out more effectively than the individual Member States ...
subsidiarity is a principle based on political pragmatism and aimed at organizing Community
activity effectively by bringing it closer to the concerns and aspirations of citizens." European
Parliament, Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights, "Report on the Commission
report to the European Council on the adaptation of Community legislation to the subsidiar-
ity principle," 29 March 1994. I am grateful to Eleanor Sharpston for discussion on this point.
105. Carr, Nationalism and After, 30-31.
106. M u d , The Man without Qualities, 211; the chapter, which is about a discussion of
"the idea of a Global Austria," is called "Antagonism sprouts between the Old and the New
107. Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 227-37; Cicero, De Officiis, 1.54-59.
108. Hume, Treatise, 303, 306-307.
109. Ibid., 222.
110. Descartes, La Naissance de la Paix, Ballet Danse' au chateau Royal de Stockholm le
jour de la Naissance de sa Majestt (Stockholm: Jean Janssonius, 1649), 4, 11.
111. Franfois Guizot, Sir Robert Peel: ttude d'histoire contemporaine (Paris: Didier,
1856), 353.
112. Mill, On Liberty, 69.
A Genealogy of the Chemical Weapons Taboo
Richard Price

There are no moral phenomena at all, but only a moral interpretation of

- Friedrich Nietzsche

A t first glance, it may seem a platitude to state that the use of chemical
weapons (CW) is a particularly reprehensible and morally unaccept-
able means of conducting armed conflict.' Yet how is it that among
the countless technological innovations in weaponry that have been used by
humankind, CW aln~ostalone have come to be stigmatized as morally illegit-
imate? Why have they been denied the legitimacy that is implied by the cate-
gorization of some means of warfare as "conventional," and conversely, how
have those conventional weapons avoided the stigma of lasting moral oppro-
brium? Finally, what do these discrepancies in legitimacy mean for the prac-
tice of violence in world politics?
Throughout history, numerous weapons have provoked cries of moral
protest upon their introduction as novel technologies of warfare. However, as
examples such as the longbow, crossbow, firearms, explosive shells, and sub-
marines demonstrate, the dominant pattern has been for such moral qualms
to disappear over time as these innovations became incorporated into the
standard techniques of war. As Alfred Mahan has put it, "the objection that
a warlike device is barbarous has always been made against new weapons,
which have nevertheless eventually been adopted."l Are CW just another
example of this process, and are the moral protests against this weapon
doomed to fade? O r is there something unique about the proscription of CW?
This article examines the sources of the C W taboo and investigates
whether there are any grounds to suspect that the norm proscribing the use
of C W differs from past restraints on other weapons - restraints that over
time have yielded to the ineluctable embrace of technology. I demonstrate
that neither of the usual answers to the C W conundrum - namely, the view
that CW are militarily useless and the assumption that the taboo is simply

4Y( 1 ) ( 1995): 73-1 0 3

Source: Interrz~ztronalOr,q~zmzat~or~,
36 Widening Security

explained by the unique physical characteristics of these weapons - suffices

to provide a fully satisfactory account of how CW have been delegitimized.
Before doing so directly, however, I engage the usual question asked of the
phenomenon of norms by international relations scholars: in what ways can
it be established that the stigma against using CW is a phenomenon that
matters in international politics in the first place? After establishing the
importance of the CW taboo and illustrating ways in which this norm
affected outcomes, I then turn to the efforts of other scholars to account for
the CW prohibition.

The Taboo and the Nonuse of CW

No issue has attracted more attention in the CW literature than the import-
ant question of why CW were not used on the major fields of battle in World
War 11, a conflict in which few other restraints were observed and, indeed, in
which most existing prohibitions were violated. There is a virtual consensus
in this literature that the nonuse of CW in World War I1 is attributable to
three major factors: as summarized by one study, "the two sides warned each
other not to use chemical weapons at the risk of strong retaliatory action in
kind; a general feeling of abhorrence on the part of governments for the use
of CB [chemicaVbiological] weapons, reinforced by the pressure of public
opinion and the constraining influence of the Geneva Protocol; and actual
unpreparedness within the military forces for the use of these weapons.""
It is of signal importance that while some authors have privileged indi-
vidual factors over others for different stages and aspects of the story, none
of the major studies has dismissed the prohibitionary norm as irrelevant in
the overall explanatory e q ~ a t i o nThus,
.~ while some authors have argued
that legal and moral restraints did not directly affect decisions not to use
CW, they also recognize that the unpreparedness of the military establish-
ments cannot be taken as an unproblematic variable, but itself must be
explained. Here, normative and legal opposition to CW take their place in
explaining why CW were not used in World War 11, since these restraints
were vital in preventing the assimilation of CW.S
Many factors contributed to the failure of military establishments to be
adequately prepared for chemical warfare in the years leading up to World
War 11: moral and legal constraints that stigmatized CW, the uncertain mili-
tary value of CW, the resistance of tradition-bound military cultures, and the
extra logistical burden of CW, to name a few.6 The argument I make here is
not that the CW prohibition was an all-powerful norm that by itself deter-
mined the outcomes of nonassimilation and nonuse. Rather, I argue that the
existence of a stigma against using CW was a necessary condition for the
nonuse of CW. The stigma combined with those other factors to retard both
the political and the military acceptance of CW and ultimately to prevent
CW use during World War 11. Similar kinds of resistances often accompany
new weapons technologies, but rarely do they result in total abstention from
iJri i c Chemical Weapons 37

using the weapons in battle. In the absence of a taboo that politicized the use
of C W at the highest levels, these other restraints would likely not have been
sufficient t o prevent chemical warfare during World War 11.
The way in which the unattractive political implications of using CW
tipped the scales in allocation decisions against such armaments is but one
example of how this peculiar understanding of C W worked to prevent their
standardization. In Britain, the advocacy of full-scale capabilities by the Air
Ministry and War Office gave way to the priorities established by the
Treasury, as it was decided (by the Air Ministry) that "it would be illogical
to reduce our offensive or defensive capacity in more important directions
in order to include an ideal scale of provision for a weapon which it is
hoped will never be used. Gas provision is therefore a direction in which
some risk may legitimately be taken."'
The conception of CW as a weapon that might not be used helped retard
military preparedness for CW because it was held in conjunction with a
determination by each of the major Allied and Axis powers that none of
them would initiate the use of CW in the major theaters of battle. And after
all, these convictions were in accordance with the international legal expres-
sion of the CW prohibition, the Geneva Protocol of 192.5, which in essence
forbade the first use of (ZW."
Moreover, at the same time as preparations were allowed to lag because
of the possibility that CW might not be used, the politicization of CW also
meant that the burden of proof of what counted as being "adequately pre-
pared" to wage chemical warfare was raised to inordinately high levels, well
beyond the level of justification required for other weapons. This phenom-
enon came into play during the German failure to employ gas during the
Allied invasion at Normandy, when, as both sides recognized, the use of CW
might well have been decisive.' The German decision has been attributed to
two major factors: the fear of Allied CW retaliation against German cities
and inadequate offensive and defensive preparations.'o The Germans made
the latter assessments even though they had a six-month supply of C W at the
time, including the Luftwaffe's half million gas b o ~ n b sand spray tanks."
These developments all demonstrate the peculiar operation of the CW
taboo. It was not the case that it was utterly unthinkable for any belligerent
to countenance chemical warfare. Violations of the taboo might well have
occurred had other circumstances arisen.I2 Rather, the stigma against CW
raised the threshold of circumstances under which one could justify a resort
to CW to situations of desperation. In 1940, for example, the British con-
sidered the possibility of having to initiate chemical warfare in the event of
a German invasion; but such suggestions were put off in large part due to
the sentiment that CW use would comprise a major departure from British
principles and traditions. This departure would have such deplorable effects
that some began to wonder "whether it really mattered which side won.""
In short, while several factors in conjunction are important to under-
stand why CW were not used, this nonevent cannot be understood without
an appreciation of the necessary role played by the taboo attached to the
38 Widening Security

use of CW. And just as the nonuse of CW cannot be explained by dismiss-

ing the prohibitionary norm as peripheral, neither can it be fully explained
as simply an unproblematic product of deterrence. An attempt to account
for the nonuse of CW by the mutual fear of retaliation leaves unanswered
the following puzzle: how could it be that the fear of retaliation against CW
was any more prohibitive than the fear of other enormously destructive
forms of warfare, such as strategic bombing or submarine attacks on civil-
ian ships? Mutual deterrence - restraint issuing from the fear of retaliation
in kind - could conceivably hold for any weapon possessed by both sides
in a conflict. The logic of deterrence thinking is not wrong so much as
indeterminate on this question, insofar as it does not address how we can
account for the fact that CW came to be defined as a deterrent weapon in
a way other means of destruction were not. How could bombing with CW
be more feared than bombing with conventional weapons, and how was it
that such categories came to be constituted in the first place?
Similar points can be made with respect to the Persian Gulf War of 1991,
a more recent case where CW were not used despite the expectations of
some coalition members.14 The extent of Iraq's preparedness to wage a var-
iety of chemical attacks (Iraq's arsenal included chemical aircraft bombs and
Al-Hussein missile chemical warheads) indicates that Iraq's nonuse of CW
cannot be attributed simply to the logistical and technical constraints of
being unable to get battlefield munitions to the front.lVhe political decision
not to employ these weapons seems to have been based on the understand-
ing that initiating chemical warfare would cross a "red line beyond which all
previous bets are off," according to a senior Bush administration official.16
While the threat and fear of massive retaliation for the use of CW seems to
have been largely responsible for inhibiting Iraq, the point being made here
is that the argument from deterrence cannot be understood without recog-
nizing the role of a prior stigma attached to CW; this stigma set chemical
weaponry apart as a symbolic threshold of acute political importance.
An additional ~ r o b l e mof reducing the CW norm to a practice of deter-
rence arises when one considers the numerous instances when CW were not
used even though their use would have been of distinct military advantage
and no threat of retaliation in kind existed. For example, CW might have
provided the least costly way for U.S. forces to advance against the Japanese
forces that were entrenched in caves and tunnels in the Pacific islands dur-
ing the latter stages of World War 11. Even though the United States faced
no significant threat of retaliation, CW still were not used. This failure to
use CW was in large part due to the military's lack of preparedness to wage
offensive chemical warfare. In turn, a major reason for the crucial shortfall
of CW capabilities was the unwillingness of theater commanders to take up
valuable shipping space with equipment that was solely for retaliation
against an enemy action that might not take place."
Among the numerous other examples in which CW were not used by
belligerents even when their opponents possessed no CW retaliatory cap-
ability are the Spanish civil war, the Korean War, the French in Indochina
I I Chemical Weapons 39

and Algeria, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.18
These prominent cases suggest that something else has worked to restrain
the use of CW as a standard weapon of war that is not fully captured by
the logic of deterrence.
Indeed, a case could be made that the CW stigma, by differentiating CW
as an especially politicized category of weapons, was the enabling condition
that illuminates how the lack o f assimilation and fear of retaliation could
work together to prevent the use of CW but not other weaponry.'' This is not
to argue that the fear of retaliation or military resistance to C W is wholly
reducible to the CW taboo but only to stress that thc taboo was a necessary
condition for the avoidance of chemical warfare in World War I1 that cannot
be dismissed as peripheral. In the absence of processes that stigmatized the
use of CW as anything but a routine practice of warfare - especially the inter-
national institutionalization of this prohibition - it is entirely possible or even
likely that CW would have been used during World War 11.
In short, the CW norm is one that matters in explaining important out-
comes in international politics, a finding that leads to the central concern of
this article: how is it that CW have been so successfully constituted as an
illegitimate category of "unconventional" weapons in the first place? What
are the meanings and purposes of the taboo? Have they changed over time?
What are the implications o f any such transformations for the robustness of
the taboo? Before discussing the method introduced to answer such inter-
rogations, I will deal with other attempts to explain the CW taboo.

Sources of t h e CW Stigma

Surprisingly few studies have engaged in sufficient depth the question of

how it is that C W - of all the technological innovations of warfare - have
become an object of special opprobrium. Answers to this question have pre-
dominantly come in the form of brief conjectures seeking to locate an answer
in those essential or unique qualities of CW that provide good logical rea-
sons for their proscription. Thus, it is speculated that CW arouse special
dread hecause they cause unnecessary suffering; because they are insidious,
unseen, and secretive; because they are indiscriminate; or because the effects
of choking can be s o vividly imagined.2" Such explanations, however ini-
tially plausible, ultimately are unsatisfactory insofar as a multitude of other
weapons offend in comparable ways. For example, J o h n Haldane has noted
that the indictment of secrecy is odd considering that high-speed bullets are
no more visible before they hit their targets; and Martin van Creveld has
questioned why the use of high explosives for tearing individuals apart is
regarded as more humane than the use of CW.>l
To be sure, this is not to say that C W are not insidious and do not cause
horrible suffering - of course they do. Nor d o I argue that such qualities
40 Widening Security

have had nothing to do with the prohibition against CW. I mean simply to
point out that most if not all other weapons share comparably dubious
qualities and thus that these qualities alone do not provide a sufficient
explanation of why CW and not other weapons have been proscribed.
Few would argue that being torn apart by burning shrapnel is anything
other than horrifying and inhumane. The difference is that, in contrast to
CW, most conventional weapons have not had such a politically successful
degree of odium attached to them, as the term "conventional weapons" itself
Michael Mandelbaum has authored the sole sustained account of which
I am aware that attempts to address the question of the legitimacy of CW
in the context of attitudes toward other weapons. In an effort to understand
the differing legitimacy accorded to nuclear and chemical weaponry as tools
of politics over the last forty years, Mandelbaum has sought an answer in
deep-rooted cultural and institutional restraints. In the end, however, he
argues that the aversion to chemical weapons may be deeply rooted in
human chromosomes. Because nuclear weapons are of relatively recent ori-
gin, he argues, humankind has not had enough time to develop a genetic
aversion to them.22 While Mandelbaum's approach goes beyond many of
the scholarly treatments of the CW taboo in attempting to place it in the
context of moral attitudes toward other weapons, his explanation is so
strained and implausible as to not merit serious consideration.
The reason for this inadequate explanation is instructive, however.
Mandelbaum has made the error of searching for the origins of the taboo
in logical reasons derived from contemporary understandings of the import-
ant characteristics of CW. He is forced into the Sisyphean position of trying
to demonstrate such a rationale because of the ahistorical and apolitical
structure of his argument, which treats the CW taboo as a static variable.
He deductively tries to account for the present moral status of CW and
nuclear weapons without reference to some of the unexpected political
dynamics of the past that may have shaped subsequent attitudes. The short-
comings of these approaches suggest that factors other than some inherent
aversion to the intrinsic features of CW have played an important role in
establishing the political salience of restraints against CW.

The Poison Taboo

Still, if there is one intrinsic quality of CW that seems to provide a plausible

explanation for its prohibition, it is the association with poison. Nevertheless,
while it is generally assumed that the ban on poison goes back through time
immemorial, more careful examination reveals that poison has been stig-
matized in European civilization as an illegitimate and cruel method of war-
fare for only a few hundred years.23While scattered references to a disdain for
poison have been noted in ancient Rome and India, the formative period for a
robust and absolute prohibition against poisonous weapons in Europe appears
to have been between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.24The prohibition
lit I!. i Chemical Weapons 41

of such weapons was advocated in 1589 by Alberico Gentili, although he

treated the issue as controversial. And as Georg Schwarzenberger has noted,
the use of poison and poisonous weapons was still being defended as late
as 1737.2F
A treatise by Grotius dating from 1625 not only offered an explanation
for the prohibition on poison but also seems to have constituted a contribu-
tion to its co~lsolidation:"Agreement upon this matter arose from a consid-
eration of the common advantage, in order that the dangers of war, which
had begun to be frequent, might not be too widely extended. And it is easy
to believe that this agreement originated with kings, whose lives are better
defended by arms than those of other men, but are less safe from poison,
unless they are protected by some respect for law and by fear of disgrace."'"
Another dimension in the discrediting of poison was its association with
the ideas of womanly deception and the ignominy of a death by poison (in
contrast to the glory of a death achieved during an open contest of brute
physical strength among men). As Margaret Hallissy has put it, "The dueller
is open, honest, and strong; the poisoner, fraudulent, scheming, and weak.
A man with a gun or a sword is a threat, but he declares himself to be so,
and his intended victim can arm himself: may the best man win and have the
public glory of heing acknowledged the best man ... Poison is an insidious
equalizer of strength in the battle of the sexes. The poisoner uses superior
secret knowledge to compensate for physical inferiority. A weak woman
planning a poison is as deadly as a man with a gun, but because she plots is1
secret, the victim is the more disarmed."'-
The image of poison, then, is that of a potential equalizer in a battle tor
domination that needed to he delegitimized in order that the physical con-
test of strength would determine political power. This process of delegitim-
ation has been so successful that it is often overlooked; we need only recall
the widespread conviction of the futility of limitations on effective weapons,
noting how it seems to forget that poison is a technology of war. For ex-
ample, T.J. 1,awrence writes, "The attempts which have been made to forbid
the introduction o f new inventions into warfare, or prevent the use of instru-
ments that cause destruction on a large scale, are doomed to failure. Man
always has improved his weapons, and always will as long as he has need
for them at all."LX
This belief cum truism is so dominant that it actually has been invoked in
order to explain the ban on poison. Despite the clear implications of Grotius'
tract, one of his interpreters has read the accepted wisdom of weapons bans
backwards i n t o that essay and has quite incorrectly surmised that the ban
"probably reflected the inefficiency of poison as a weapon."" Even one of
the more historically sensitive treatments of the CW ban, one that spends
considerable effort analyzing the possible links between the CW norm and
the prohibition against poison, was able in the same treatise to state that
chemical and biological warfare comes the closest to providing an example of
totally outlawing a particular means of warfare, all others having failed
(excepting for means of no military utility)."' On the contrary, poison has
42 Widening Security

been delegitimized as a means of violence, and it is precisely because of its

potential effectiveness and the inability to defend against it.
To what extent, then, does this robust taboo against poison account for
the CW prohibition? It will be recalled that Mandelbaum's attempt to
explain the CW taboo took the form of trying to give an account of human-
ity's special psychological horror of toxic substances. As such, he simply
assumed an axiomatic connection between CW and poison. Prima facie this
may not seem an unreasonable assumption, for CW often are referred to as
"poison gases." For the genealogist, however, the question arises whether
we can attribute the rise of a norm proscribing CW to its connection with
poison, a weapon believed to have been proscribed throughout the ages by
the laws of civilized warfare.
The normative discourse concerning CW began in earnest with the
assembly of the world's major nations at the Hague Peace Conferences of
1899 and 1907.31An analysis of the proceedings of the Hague conference
of 1899 reveals that the origins of the CW taboo did not issue primarily
from an understanding that such weapons were just another version of
poison. Indeed, the use of "poison and poisoned weapons" was "especially
prohibited" by Article 23(a) of the Convention with Respect to the Laws
and Customs of War on Land produced at the Hague, but no link was ever
made between this prohibition and the declaration prohibiting asphyxiating
What the delegates understood themselves to ban at the Hague was the
first use of a particular type of explosive shell: "projectiles whose purpose is
to spread asphyxiating gases and not those whose explosion incidentally
produces these gases."33 CW had yet to be developed, and at the time these
weapons were portrayed as a new type of explosive that might be restricted,
rather than a toxic weapon that was subject to the customary prohibitions
on poison. While a few attempts were made to equate these kinds of shells
with poison, such reasoning was strongly countered by other delegates. As
attested to by U.S. delegate A.D. White, the discursive strategy that in the
end did facilitate the attainment of a prohibition was the perception "that
asphyxiating bombs might be used against towns for the destruction of vast
numbers of noncombatants, including women and children, while torpedoes
at sea are used only against the military and naval forces of the enemy."34
To be sure, it would be unwise to exclude unduly any legitimate influ-
ence the association with poison may have had on the early development of
ideas concerning CW.35 It is clear, however, that the initial institutionalized
form of the CW norm was not primarily the result of a discursive strategy
that linked these weapons to a robust norm proscribing the use of poison.
Rather, it was reached via a linkage between asphyxiating shells and the
threat to civilians, and also because the declaration proscribing asphyxiat-
ing shells was seen to be of little significance, as these kinds of explosive
shells had not yet been developed.36The galvanizing specter of CW was one
of a devastating weapon against which there would be no defense for helpless
Chemical Weapons 43

While the prohibition o n poison does not sufficiently account for the
origins of the C W taboo, over time the association of CW with poison and
with biological weapons has become important in sustaining the CW pro-
hibition. This has developed as the ~mderstandingof CW has been trans-
formed from their initial assessment as a potentially devastating or at least
effective fruit of technological progress wielded by the advanced powers, to
the view that CW are a n insidious equalizer wielcled hy the weak. Moreover,
this comparison between the two bans brings out the truly intriguing qual-
ity of the persistence of the CW taboo: unlike poison and perhaps even
nuclear or biological weapons, nothing in the nature of CW would cause
them to be defined as a technology against which there is little means of
defense. Indeed, of all recent weapons innovations C W are probably the
most susceptible to defensive measures. Nor is it simply true, however, that
CW are therefore ineffective weapons. While the effectiveness of CW can be
reduced due to liabilities such as defensive measures or dependence on wind
conditions, CRf can be devastatingly effective in certain tactical and stra-
tegic conditions, as both sides recognized during situations in World War 11
such as the D-Day landings at Normandy. In short, it is not possible to
account for the peculiar reception of gas weapons during this period simply
by virtue of their objective characteristics.

The Genealogical Method

As previewed above, providing an adequate account of the CW taboo requires

an understanding of the meanings that have served to constitute and de-
legitimize this category of weapons. This "how" question of understanding
meaning is different from the "why" question of causal explanation that is usu-
ally the focus of international relations scholarsl~ip.~' Given the predom-
inantly positivist cast of the discipline, and its dominance by U.S. policy
issues, scholarship in the field has been grounded in the quest for theories
of causal explanation for behavioral outcomes.:' Because the discipline has
been so method-driven, interesting questions posed of international politi-
cal phenomena not answerable in terms of the prevailing methodological
orthodoxy - that is, the types of questions often posed by plitical philoso-
phers, social theorists, and anthropologists - have been relegated to the
margins of the discipline.'"
The inadequacy of previous efforts to give 311account of the CW taboo,
however, makes plain the contributions of an interpretive methodology that
seeks to uncover the discursive strategies employed to delegitimize the cat-
egory of CW."' As was shown above, Mandelhaum mistakenly assumed
that the present form of a moral interpretation c o ~ ~ account
ld for its origins.
As such, he committed the same error that Friedrich Nietzsche criticized in
his analyses of moral institutions; namely, the error of ignoring "the specific
historical and genealogical tangles that produce the contingent structures
we mistakenly consider given, solid, and extending without change into the
44 Widening Security

future as well as into the past."41 The fallacy of confusing rational functions
for origins was a prominent and consistent theme in Nietzsche's writings on
the origins of morality.42 As a corrective, Nietzsche proffered the genea-
logical method, an approach that seeks to uncover the conditions under
which moral institutions are devised and to interpret the value that these
norms themselves possess.43
The analysis adopted in this article to untie the conundrum of the CW
taboo has as its main influence insights generated from this method, one
of many traditions of interpretive and constructivist social science.44 The
genealogical approach, which more recently has been popularized through
the writings of Michel Foucault, is particularly well-suited for an analysis
of the norm proscribing CW as it is a method specifically concerned with
interpreting the origins of moral interpretations. And as Nietzsche explained
with respect to his own studies of asceticism, the chief contribution of such
inquiries is on the "how" questions of meaning more so than the "why" ques-
tions of explanation:

It is my purpose here to bring to light, not what this ideal has done, but
simply what it means; what it indicates; what lies hidden behind it,
beneath it, in it; of what it is the provisional, indistinct expression, over-
laid with question marks and misunderstandings. ... what is the mean-
ing of the power of this ideal? ... Why has it been allowed to flourish to
this e ~ t e n t ? ~ "

For Foucault, as for Nietzsche, what is most often found at the histor-
ical beginnings of things is not "the moment of their greatest perfection,
when they emerge dazzling from the hands of a creator."46 Rather, the
development of institutions often consists of rationally inexplicable events,
"fabricated in piecemeal fashion" out of the vicissitudes of history.47AS a
result of the marriage of chance occurrences, fortuitous connections, and
reinterpretations, the purposes and forms of moral structures often change
in such a way that they come to embody values different from those that
animated their origins. As Nietzsche put it,

The cause of the origin of a thing and its eventual utility, its actual employ-
ment and place in a system of purposes, lie worlds apart; whatever exists,
having somehow come into being, is again and again reinterpreted to new
ends, ... and the entire history of a "thing," an organ, a custom can in this
way be a continuous sign-chain of ever new interpretations and adapta-
tions whose causes do not even have to be related to one another but, on
the contrary, in some cases succeed and alternate with one another in a
purely chance fashion.48

Genealogy's allowance for contingency seems intuitively appropriate for the

rather jumbled history of violations and resurrections of the CW norm. Indeed,
the genealogical stance is quite at home with one of the more intriguing aspects
;'I Chemical Weapons 45

of the CW story - the U.S. position. The United States moved from being the
only opponent of the first CW ban (the Hague declaration) to being the pri-
mary proponent of efforts to ban CW after World War I (the Geneva Protocol),
a ban which the U.S. sought and achieved but then ultimately failed to ratify.
The genealogical stance is favorably placed to account for the interests and
identities forged out of "the events of history, its jolts, its surprises, its unsteady
victories and unpalatable defeatsn4"- a task especially apposite for the uneven
record of the norm proscribing chemical weapons.
The genealogy of the CW taboo thus seeks to remedy the deficiencies of
essentialist and deductive approaches by making the basic move of histori-
cizing the accepted moral interpretations of weapons technologies and the
place of CW within this moral domain. This operation reflects an under-
standing of the role of genealogy as an effort to find history where it is not
expected to he - within moral institutions and practices that are usually
thought to be exempt from the contingencies of historical tangles."'
Besides emphasizing the importance of historical contingency in the
social construction of norms, the genealogical method influences the fol-
lowing analysis of the CW taboo through the employment of two of the
genealogist's analytical tools: discourses and power. Discourses, the favored
analytic focus of Foucault, are theoretical statements that are connected to
social practices." These discourses produce and legitimize certain behaviors
and conditions of life as "normal," and serve to politicize some phenomena
over others. As stattd by James Keeky, discourses "also may produce
behaviour defined as deviant, which is then used to justify the maintenance
and development of the system intended to control or eliminate it.""
For Foucault, the production of disco~~rses is a form of power, which he
termed "disciplinary" power." The production ot a discourse constructs
categories that then~selvesmake a cluster of practices and understandings
seem inconceivable or illegitimate. This disciplinary power sets a field of
conceptual possibilities that defines what is normal and natural, and what
is unthinkable and r e p r e h e n s i b l e . ' ~ r o h i b i t i o n a r ynorms in this sense d o
not merely restrain hehavior hut are productive in that they constitute iden-
tities and impose meanings of what is to count as legitimate reality. Norms
as conceived in this constructivist account are closely tied to the formation
of identities, as "we form our identities hy conforming ourselves over time
to tacitly understood norms and generally accepted practices," in the words
of David Couzens Hoy. "
Using these categories of analysis to examine international politics,
genealogy injects a different dimension of power into the study of norms,
an element that often seems neglected in the attempt to distance the role
of norms and ideas from realism's focus on material power.jh While a
Nietzschean genealogy might share with realism a focus on the power rela-
tion in human affairs, the differences between these two approaches are
several and substantial. Conflicts over interpretive truths - that is, the exer-
cise of power - are located at different sites than the power relations usu-
ally examined in international relations scholarship. As James Der Derian
46 Widening Security

has argued, the genealogist's focus on multiple sites of power constitutes a

challenge to the state-centrism of realism while not denying the importance
of power in international
Moreover, Nietzsche radically questions the conception of self-interest
employed by realist scholars by rendering problematic the identities that
can have those interests in the first place: self-interest cannot be an unprob-
lematic concept if the self is conceived as a set of constructed identities that
need not be stable over time.58 What genealogy seeks to offer is not simply
an account of the conscious intentions of actors but rather an interpretation
of what kind of politics is promoted by a moral system. In this regard, a
genealogy does not presume that the power interactions that forge dom-
inant norms simply and necessarily reflect the balance of material capabilit-
ies, such as military power.
In short, because the CW taboo defies rational expectations regarding
weapons prohibitions,5y it plays to the strengths of interpretive and con-
structivist approaches such as genealogy.60The account that follows also
offers empirical support against the technological determinism implied in
accepting the idea that no effective weapons ever are banned. In opposition
to the thesis of autonomous technology, many thinkers in the philosophy of
technology have argued that technology is a social, cultural, and political
construction, a position that the argument presented here support^.^'
As suggested in the research program outlined by Keeley, then, an analy-
sis influenced by genealogy involves the following more specific undertak-
ings: (1)the identification of contending discourses and how they change over
time; (2) the identification of features of CW that came to be regarded as
essential in disputes over first, the definition of acceptable behavior, second,
the naming and evaluation of the weapon, and third, standards of judgment
to be applied; and (3) the identification of the various strategies and mechan-
isms to "exercise power" - that is, to create, transform, or destroy networks
of relations that sustain a discourse and the political space that it orders.62
What follows is not an attempt to provide a comprehensive explanation
for the CW taboo and its role at each key moment in the history of the use
and nonuse of CW. Rather, the remainder of the article has the more modest
objective of illuminating crucial aspects of the CW taboo that have been
neglected in the literature. For example, this article contributes to the inter-
national law literature on CW by providing a more comparative dimension to
the analysis of how CW were effectively distinguished from other weapons.
In addition, analyzing the hierarchical ordering of violence involved in the
operation of weapons discourses offers a more coherent account of violations
of the CW ban, a development that has perplexed much of the literature.
Even then, an account of all of the important sources, transformations,
meanings, resistances, and consequences of the constitution of the taboo is
beyond this article's scope.63 In what follows, I identify selected aspects of
the taboo without which we cannot adequately understand how CW have
been constituted as a category, how they have been delegitimized apart from
Chemical Weapons 47

other w e ~ p o n s ,and how the t ~ b o ohas pers~stedIn the f x e of o c c a s ~ o n ~ l

v l o l a t ~ o n In t s role o t three
~ . particul,ir, the following analys~sh ~ g h l ~ g hthe
dmenslons of the t ~ b o o- contingency, h ~ e r ~ r c h y l d o m ~ n a t l oand
n , resist-
ance - In the operation of the C,W moral d~scourse.

T h e Political Construction of T e c h n o l o g y

An analysis ot the discourse at the Hague Conferelices reveals that the initial
consideration of gas shells was fundamentally different from that of other
weapons. Limitations on a number of weapons were discussed at the confer-
ences - submarine mines, muskets, balloons, submarine torpedoes, explosives,
field guns, and so on. With the exception of durn-durn bullets and asphyxi-
ating shells, however, the limitations that were agreed upon took the form of
proscribing certain uses of certain kinds of weapons. The dominant under-
standing within which the subject of weapons linlitations was situated was an
interpretation of technology as a value-neutral phenomenon. Technologies
were not regarded as in and of themselves immoral; their moral value was
understood to depend upon how they were used. The unique aspect of the
emergent CW norm at the Hague conference of 1899 is that it did not follow
this understanding and simply ban particular uses of such shells (e.g., against
civilians), while implicitly conferring legitimacy upon their use against sol-
diers in the field. Rather, the Hague declaration took the form of a more
absolute prohibition in that any kind of first use of such weapons was to be
regarded as unacceptable. In this way, the ban served to define gas shells as a
particular and distinct category of weapon, a phenomenon that subsequently
has proved critical in the politicization of CW.
This emergent norm was unique in the sense that it anticipated the intro-
duction of a new technology of warfare.'" The protests that accompany the
introduction of a novel weapon usually represent the cries of a surprised
and technologically disadvantaged victim. The preemptive proscription of a
weapon, however, could lend unusual and more universal force to objec-
tions to their introduction, for such an act would constitute a breach of a
formal agreement of international law reached by the civilized members of
the family of nations."'
An analysis of the C W discourse during the course of World War I reveals
that this is in fact what occurred. To the extent that gas weapons were sin-
gled out and politicized ahove and beyond other new weapons, it was not
solely because they were perceived as more cruel than other weapons but
because it was understood that their use was a violation of the Hague dec-
laration.'" And quite unlike any other weapon, the use of gas weapons was
politicized even though they were used solely against combatants. This dif-
ference is indicative of the absolute quality of this carving out of a political
space for CW. Again, this is not to downplay the importance of a particular
moral revulsion toward gas in the development of the taboo but simply to
48 Widening Security

point out other crucial respects in which the CW experience departed from
the usual revulsion toward other novel weapons.
The CW experience of World War I also was anomalous in that the stipu-
lations of the Hague declaration were adhered to until well into the war.
The British development of gas weapons was fully in accord with and dic-
tated by their understanding of the legal stipulations of the 1899 declara-
tion. So, too, British employment of gas weapons was restrained by the
nascent CW norm: they only used gas weapons in reaction to German use.67
Similarly, the decision of the French to formally authorize toxic shells was
delayed for some time, as French authorities felt bound in some measure by
the Hague d e ~ l a r a t i o nNormative
.~~ constraints also were important in one
further respect. Despite the widespread use of CW during World War I,
none of the belligerents intentionally employed CW against civilians even
though civilians had been attacked by other means, such as submarine
attacks and air raids. This nonevent not only was the product of normative
restraint but it also has subsequently helped to set CW apart as a politically
potent symbolic threshold, a function these weapons have continued to
serve ever since.69 Indeed, it can be speculated that had CW been used
against civilians during the war, they would have been grudgingly accepted
as yet another inevitability of modern warfare. (Many soldiers who had
been exposed to CW resigned themselves to the similar view that CW were
just one of many new weapons introduced in the war to which soldiers
must accommodate t h e m s e l v e ~ . ) ~ ~
These developments are important because they illustrate significant
effects of the discursive definition of CW begun at the Hague conference of
1899 that have gone neglected in CW literature. This neglect is a result of
the assumption that the Hague norm could not have played any significant
role in the development of the CW prohibition, given its apparent obliter-
ation during World War I. Ann Van Wynen Thomas and A.J. Thomas,
authors of one of the most judicious studies of the CW norm, have argued
that even if there was a customary norm proscribing the use of CW by the
time of World War I, "it did nothing to restrain the use of gas" during that
conflict.71 On the contrary, the experience of CW use during World War I
demonstrates that the Hague prohibition had carved out a political space
for CW - the use of CW was seen as a violation of acceptable behavior,
a departure from civilized conduct that needed to be dis~iplined.'~
The peculiarity of this treatment of CW was remarkably in evidence dur-
ing postwar efforts to reaffirm a ban on gas weapons. At the Washington
conference of 1921-22, U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes
pushed through an absolute prohibition on any first use of CW despite the
unanimous recommendations of a subcommittee of experts that "the only
limitation practicable is wholly to prohibit the use of gases against cities
and other large bodies of noncombatants in the same manner as high explo-
sives may be limited."73 While Hughes was prepared to accept the same kinds
of limitations on CW as on other weapons if the proposal had encountered
stiff opposition, the resolution was accepted as Article V of the Washington
Chemical Weapons 49

treaty.74 Its acceptance was made possible by the helief of the delegates a t
the conference that such a prohibition was neither new nor terribly import-
ant. O n the one hand, they saw it as merely reaffirming previous bans (the
Hague declaration, whose violation during World War I left little confidence
in such treaties, and Article 17 1 of the Versailles treaty, which was essentially
an anti-German provision). Furthermore, it was believed that such a treaty
was not terribly important as it would not prevent preparations for c l i e ~ n -
ical warfare. Even though this treaty never came into effect, the clause ban-
ning C W lived o n in the sense that it served directly as the basis and even
rationale for the Geneva I'rotocol of 1925, which in turn has operated as
the focal point of the (:W norm for almost seventy years.-' 111 genealogical
fashion, then, the invocation of an institutional tradition as a rationale for
renewed efforts t o ban <:W thus obscured a less than glorious ancestry. And
as Nietzsche wrote.

trL1d~tlongrows more vener,~blethe farther ~ t orlglns l ~ e sIn the past, the

more ~t IS torgotten; the respect p a ~ dt o the t r a d ~ t ~ oaccumulate\
n trom
generation t o gener'1tlon; f~n,illythe orlgln becomes sacred and awakeno

These ~ n t e r n ~ t ~ o ntreatles
'll themselves were m'ide poss~bleby an Inter-
war hysterl'i ~ h o u (t W that was created by the over7ealous lohbymg efforts
by c h e r n ~ c ~~ndustrles
~l ,lnd gas warfare dep,~rtments.Espec~,llly In B r ~ t a n
and the lJmted States, these b o d ~ e smade "tot,ill\ ~ r r e s p o n s ~ b ... l e exagger-
atlons of new weapons developments" In order to secure c h e m ~ c a lt m t t \
'lnd the surv~\,llof chem~c,llwarfare department\. T h e fearful x e n a r l o s
o t tuture d a n g c ~constructed around C W were \o effectwe because they
encountered n o oppooltlon ~ ~ n~tt was ~ l too late: the same d ~ a l o g u eof dread
w ~ bs e ~ n g~ n s c r ~ p t eby d the opponents o t gas w,i~-fare.-~ In t h ~ swa), a n
Iniclge of C W was constructed tar o u t o t proportion t o the a c t u ~ danger l
the\ reprewnted a t the tlme. As ,I 5IPRI report noted, "To anyone w h o was
prepared t o c o n s d e r the p o t e n t ~ a h t mof C W d~spa\s~onately, ~twould habe
heen clear that the chern~calthreat d ~ not d d ~ f f e markedlv
r from that posed by
h~gh-explos~ve weapon\. Ag,unst well-equ~ppedm d w e l l - d ~ s c ~ p l ~ ntroops, ed
the chem~calwe'ipons ot the time would never he o\erwhelmlng; 1 t anyth~ng,
thew eff~cacyh'id decl~nedsmce 19 18."'"
In short, the C W taboo was reborn trom the 'ishes of World War I not
bccausc C W were perce~vedas n i ~ l ~ t a r r luseless y - quite the opposite. But
t h ~ sd e p ~ c t ~ oofn C W reveals that the p r o h r b ~ t ~ o1sn best understood as a
p o l ~ t ~ c construction
al whose ~ n \ t ~ t u t ~ o n a l ~ zh'is
a t ~In
o nturn helped t o ener-
v legltlm17e the threat t o w h ~ c h~t was supposed t o be a
g17c p o l ~ t ~ c a l l'lnd
r e a c t ~ o n . ~The
" p o l ~ t ~ c ~ ldleyc ~ s ~ vmscrlptlon
e of that threat In part was
made poss~blebv the m ~ ~ c a l c u l a t ~ oofn sa gas lobby whose strategy back-
t ~ r e d .t v e n so, the leg~tlmacvo t ~ n t e r n a t w n a ltre'lty law would l~kelynot
habc been ~ m p a r t e dt o the Interwar CW p r o h ~ b ~ t r own~ t h o u the t legacy of
the Hague d e c l , ~ r a t ~ o nw, h ~ c hu n ~ q u e l yh ~ adl t ~ c ~ p a t ethed appearJnce o t
50 Widening Security

CW on the stage of modern industrial warfare. Due to a series of rather

fortuitous events, then, the dominance of a particular interpretation of CW
proved potent in providing the grounds for institutionalizing the prohib-
ition at the level of international law.
While a variety of contingencies each played a crucial role in decisive
moments in the development of the CW taboo, the prohibition also owed
much to the concerted efforts of a series of political leaders who sought to
cultivate a public moral revulsion against CW. At the Washington confer-
ence, British delegate Balfour had argued that agreement on the prohibition
against CW was desirable in order to "do something to bring home to the
consciences of mankind that poison gas was not a form of warfare which
civilized nations could tolerate."" Even more explicitly, U.S. delegate Elihu
Root expressed his belief that, "the opinion of the people of civilized nations
had tremendous force and exercised a powerful influence on the condition
of the belligerents. ... The public opinion of mankind was not the opinion
of scientific and well-informed men, but of ill-informed men who formed
opinions on simple and direct issues. If the public could be confused, pub-
lic opinion was ineffective; but if the public was clear on the fundamentals
of a question, then the opinion of mankind was something which no nation
could afford to ignore or defy." The purpose of the proposed treaty, accord-
ing to Root, was thus "to put into such simple form the subject which had
so stirred the feelings of a great part of the civilized world that the man in
the street and the man on the farm could understand it."x2
During the interwar period and into World War 11, a crucial factor in the
continued obloquy against CW was the existence at the highest political levels
of decision makers who sought to uphold the international prohibition
against the use of CW out of humanitarian concern, even if it meant giving
up a military a d ~ a n t a g eThe
. ~ ~ moral obloquy that has come to be associ-
ated with CW since 1925 has coalesced around these practices, which instant-
iated the international prohibitionary norm against CW as embodied in the
Geneva Protocol.

The Discipline of Civilization

Since its origins, the prohibition against CW has come to function as a sym-
bol of the hierarchical relations of domination in the international system.
It was seen above that the Hague ban was in a particular sense an absolute
prohibition. It was not, however, unreservedly universal. Strictly speaking,
the declaration established a discriminatory regime insofar as its language
stipulated that the ban against asphyxiating shells was "only binding on the
Contracting Powers in the case of war between two or more of them."
Furthermore, the declaration stated that "it shall cease to be binding from
the time when, in a war between the Contracting Powers, one of the bel-
ligerents shall be joined by a non-Contracting Power." Those contracting
Chemical Weapons 51

powers were the nations that would count as the members of an emerging
society of civilized states. That is, one of the qualifications for gaining the
status of a civilized nation was to partake in the regulation of warfare that
began among the European society of states in the mid-nineteenth ~ e n t u r y . ' ~
The emerging awareness of a standard of civilization during this period
is noteworthy for this study in several respects. First, part of the larger his-
torical explanation for the origins o f the CW taboo lies in the emergcncc of
concentrated and organized attacks on the institution of warfare as immoral
and uncivilized during this period. While it generally was still believed at this
time that war was natural and inevitable, the rise of these voices of protest
led to efforts to ameliorate warfare, most notably the Hague confere~ices."
Second, the brandishing of a standard of civilization in connection with
the CW taboo recalls some earlier weapons bans in history. In particular, the
oft-cited Lateran Council decree of 1I39 outlawed the use of the crossbow,
but only against Christians; against heathens, the crossbow was deemed an
entirely appropriate weapon.xhThis tendency to permit the use of otherwise
outlawed weapons against an alien "other" has been observed by Robert
O'Connell, who has drawn a comparison to the savagery of interspecific
competition as opposed to the circumscribed rituals of intraspecific compe-
tition." To some extent, the contractual language of the Hague conterences
implicates the origins of the CW taboo in such exclusionary practices.
Nevertheless, the Hague ban differed from earlier bans since it was
reached before any nation actually had such weapons in their arsenal. This
situation permitted the circumvention of the amoral monopoly that often
accon~paniesthe exclusive possession of a novel method of warfare. That
is, the historical record indicates that moral qualms about the use of novel
technologies of destruction issue most prominently ( i f not surprisingly) from
those upon whom the weapons initially are inflicted. Moral objections may
continue oncc the monopoly is lost and the initial victim incorporates the
new weapon (as with the crossbow), but the overwhelming tendency is for
such moral concerns to fall by the wayside as the possibilities of technology
are embraced by more than one party. With asphyxiating shells this was not
the case. As alluded to earlier, the moral protests that accompanied the first
use of such weapons were not simply the usual cry of the unsuspecting vic-
tim but were an expression of outrage at the violation of mutually agreed-
upon conduct among the club of civilized nations.
The significance of this feature of the prohibition, then, lies in the fact
that such a ban is not so easily dismissed once the other attains the novel
weapon. The unique character of the effort at the Hague to institutionalize
' proh~b~t~
1 agalnst
on the e n t m category of we'Ipon5 known as asphyx~at-
mg shells thu5 comes to assume more Importance than 1s usually acknow-
ledged i n the CW I~terature.
If the symbol~cconnection of CW w ~ t hthe standard of c~vrl~zed conduct
has made ~t more d ~ f f ~ c ufor
l t advanced natmns to employ these weapons as
lust another unremarkable, u n p o l ~ t ~ c ~ z and
e d , standard means of w ~ r f a r e ,
52 Widening Security

it has also played a part in the use of CW against "uncivilized" areas. The
invocation of the disciplining discourse of civilization was in operation dur-
ing the two most significant violations of the CW taboo since World War I:
their use against Ethiopia by Italy in 1935-36 and during the Iran-Iraq War
of the 1980s.
The use of CW against Ethiopia led some to expect - and fear - that their
employment would be a matter of course during World War 11." For others,
however, the assessment was different: war among the industrialized nations
of Europe was a different matter than conflicts involving less technologically
advanced areas, such as the colonies.89 The surprising lack of gas warfare
during World War I1 can thus be understood as implicated in a process by
which the conduct of war among "civilized" nations was demarcated from
that involving "uncivilized" nations. As George Quester has put it, a stand-
ard view of world affairs after Versailles was that the arenas of European
war and colonial war might well have been separable.y0And the use of CW,
while still abhorrent, might be less unacceptable in one area than another.
This phenomenon of differentiation in the acceptability of forms of
warfare has received attention from a number of authors, most forcefully
perhaps by John Mueller. For Mueller, major war - war among developed
states - has been subject to a gradual obsolescence that has not occurred in
other areas of the globe.91The occasional ruptures of the CW taboo reflect
the understanding that modern warfare between industrialized powers is
qualitatively different from war involving an uncivilized country.y2 As the
Italians argued, the "Ethiopians have repeatedly shown she is not worthy
of the rank of a civilized n a t i ~ n . " ' ~CW signified this difference: among
advanced nations they served as a potent symbol of prohibitive levels of
modern destruction, pregnant with the possibility of a standoff maintained
at levels of destruction lower than what was technologically possible. At the
same time, they were implicated in the process of the hierarchical ordering
of international politics into the civilized and uncivilized arenas.
On these and other grounds there are significant parallels between Italy's
use of CW against Ethiopia and Iraq's use of CW during the Iran-Iraq War.
Iraq did not even admit to the use of CW until the last year of the war. Even
then, Iraq's leaders stated that they supported the general rule prohibiting
the use of CW and justified their use as the "right to defend itself and pro-
tect its territorial integrity and its homeland."94 One need not attribute too
much credence to Iraq's claims to abide by the CW norm to notice that
something significant had not occurred: a reopening of what has over time
become the humanitarian core of the CW norm.
During World War I, the Germans explicitly questioned the very purpose
and integrity of the norm prohibiting CW by arguing that gas weapons were
no less humane than the guns and howitzers, which made life in the trenches
such a "terrible helLX9'And during the 1920s, so vociferous were the argu-
ments that CW actually were more humane than other weapons that the
Geneva Protocol was rejected by the U.S. Senate. Typical of such a position
was the contention of Senator Reed that the CW ban would prevent the
I Chemical Weapons 53

United States "from using gas against the next savage race with which we
find ourselves in war, and would compel us to blow them up, or stab them
w ~ t hbayonets, or r~ddlethem and sprlnkle them w ~ t hshrapnel, or puncture
them w ~ t hmachlne-gun bullets, ~nsteadof hllnding them for an hour or so
until we could d ~ r a r mthem. That IS the 'human~ty'that IS attempted to he
worked out by the Geneva Protocol."'"
As w ~ t hthe Ital1an5 In 1935-36, however, the Ir,~q,smade no attempt to
leglt1m17etheir use of CW on the b a s ~ sof the alleged humanltar~anqual~ties
of CW. Lracl'5 u n w ~ l l ~ n g n etos ~challenge the vlem that C W are p a r t ~ c u l a r l ~
hemous is lndicatlve of a substantial strengthen~ngof the norm over tlrne.
Th15 strengthen~ng1s In turn due to the acceptance of a human~tariand ~ m e n -
slon that has hecome ~ n ~ r e a s ~ n ley5 g l y open to quewon. The foreclos~ngof
the humanltar~anchallenge to the CW taboo o n e s much to the legacy and
leg~trmacyot the CW p r o h i b ~ t ~ oemhrmed
n In ~nternat~onal
law: the G e n e ~ a
Protocol has ~nip,irted,7n ~nstttutwnalImprlrnatur to the vlew that C W are
~nhuinanethat has been denled to opponents of the taboo.

The Weapon of the Weak

Another manifestation of the disciplining aspect of the CW discourse has

been the characterization of these weapons as a weapon of the weak. The
condescending overtones of the designation of CW as the "poor man's
homh" recalls the effecti,.e moral obloquy attached to poison as a cruel and
treacherous weapon and echoes its disdain for an equalizing weapon of the
weak. I.ow-cost and efficient weapons of destruction are derided as an
insufficient entry fee into the club of civilized warfare manned by industrial1
technological powers."-
This disciplining discourse has not issued solely from the developed
world, however. In a July 1988 statement defending the use of CW, Iraqi
Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz ventured to argue that "There are different
views on this matter from different angles. You are living on a civilized con-
tinent. You are living o n a peaceful continent."" CW indeed were a symbol
of unacceptable violence - at least among civilized countries.
Aziz expanded upon this view a year later. In response to a comment
that the parallel between nuclear weapons and (:W (implied in characteriz-
ing CW as the poor man's bomb) was a specious one, insofar as the former
are deterrent whereas the latter have never prevented war, Aziz responded
that "The strategic conditions prevailing in Europe cannot be applied to our
region. The Eastern and western countries have achieved a balance and war
has become virtually impossible. The two sides have therefore shown their
readiness to take disarmament measures. The situ:ition in my region bears
no resemblance to that. The causes of insecurity have not yet been elimi~l-
ated. Neither Israel nor Iran has shown sufficient desire to live peacefully
with its neighbours. It is therefore unrealistic to ask the Near East states to
abandon a particular type of weapon until there is a real prospect of peace.
54 Widening Security

But I do not say that we are opposed to the Paris conference's objectives.
We agree with them. We just hope that parallel disarmament efforts will be
developed in both spheres - nuclear and chemical weapons."99
In short, the disciplinary implications involved in characterizing CW as
the poor man's bomb have been turned on their head. The link between the
two classes of weapons established by the analogy has been appropriated by
some nations in the developing world - the Arab nations in particular - by
situating it within a broader discourse of "weapons of mass destruction."
This discursive usurpation was notably in evidence at the Paris confer-
ence of January 1989, which had been proposed by the United States to
reinvigorate the norm prohibiting the use of CW in the aftermath of the
Iran-Iraq War.''' At this conference, representatives of Arab and other coun-
tries requested the establishment of a link between nuclear and chemical dis-
armament and declared that there could be no question of applying to CW
so discriminatory a rationale as that of the nonproliferation treaty on
nuclear weapons. They demanded that the process of prohibiting C U must
be part of a process to prohibit the entire category of weapons of mass
de~truction.~Ol As Egypt's foreign minister stated at the conference, "It would
not be logical for the international community to permit to some countries
in the most sensitive regions of the world the nuclear option without the least
international control, while the same international community demands the
total prohibition of chemical weapons. We consider that the progress in the
field of the prohibition of chemical weapons is linked to the realization of
a parallel prohibition on the level of nuclear weapons."lo2
For the industrialized world, the category of weapons of mass destruc-
tion has served as the touchstone for efforts to curb the proliferation of
advanced weapons systems in the Third World. The Arab world, however,
has appropriated this discourse in a manner that has made explicit the dou-
ble standard in the antiproliferation designs of the industrialized world:
while the Third World is re vented from acquiring deterrents such as nuclear
or chemical weapons, the Western powers are permitted to retain their
weapons of mass destruction - conventional and otherwise - as legitimate
tools of diplomacy.'03 Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal is a particular con-
cern in this strategy of linkage, and it was on these grounds that the Paris
conference polarized opposition between a North anxious about prolifer-
ation and a South intent on redressing the selectivity and imbalance in the
international proliferation regime.lo4
This appropriation of the mass destruction discourse is a remarkable
example of an attempt at the kind of interpretive reversal that Nietzsche and
Foucault had in mind in their writings on moral discourses. As Foucault
wrote, "The successes of history belong to those who are capable of seizing
these rules, to replace those who had used them, to disguise themselves so as
to pervert them, invert their meaning, and redirect them against those who
had initially imposed them." lo5
Most important to note for the purposes of this article is the effect of this
attempted usurpation on the illegitimacy of CW. Taken to its extreme, the
Chemical Weapons 55

d~scursivelinkage of CW to nuclear weapons through the weapons-of-mass-

destruct~oncategory could have deleterious unpl~cattonsfor the robustness
of the CW taboo. On b,llance, however, this oper'ltton has had the effect ot
r e ~ n f o r c ~ nthe
g ~ l l e g ~ t ~ m aofc yCW.
Acceptance ot the leglt~macy of the weapons-ot-mass-destruct~on d ~ s -
iourse lnvltes the questlon of why other enormously destructive convent~onal
weapons are not ~ncludcdIn t h ~ scategory."'" D u r ~ n gthe Persian Gulf W'lr,
this question was in fact raised by Iraq's envoy to the llnited Nations, Ahdul
Arnir Anhari. He stated that "We consider use of mass destructive weapons
against Iraq would justify Iraq to use, unfortunately, mass destructive
weapons," adding that if the massive bombing from high altitude continued,
these bombs could then he considered weapons of mass destr~ction.'~'-
To this point, attention on the disjuncture between the category of
weapons of mass destruction and the capabilities of modern conventional
weapons has remained 3t the margins of the international agenda. So too,
however, has the reverse operation of questioning why uncontested members
of the delegitimized cluh - nuclear and chemical/hiological weapons - are
unacceptable. On the contrary, the overall thrust of the weapons discourse
has been to expand the definition of unacceptable weapons rather than to
restrict or abolish it."'"
In this way, inclusion of CW in this category constitutes a unique devel-
opment in the history of the legitimacy of weapons technologies. Quite unlike
the iisual pattern of receding moral restraints on weapons, the weapons-of-
mass-destruction discourse is in one respect an unparalleled extension of the
category of illegitimate weapons. One corollary of the thesis that restraints on
weapons technologies are always doomed to fail is the notion that new, more
destructive technologies make previous weapons somehow seem less horrible.
As a result, the old weapons gradually become incorporated as standard
means of warfare. Rather than banishing the moral rejection of CW into the
quaint dustbin of protests against new weapons technologies, however, the
invention of nuclear weapons has perpetuated and reinforced the CW taboo
via the discourse of mass destruction. In other words, the advent of nuclear
weapons has not made CW seem less horrible or more humane.
Finally, while the linkage to nuclear weapons could serve to justify the
possession of CW as a deterrent, it has not legitiniizect the actual use of CW.
This is so because even though the possession of nuclear weapons is seen as
a legitimate pursuit by some members of the international system, their use
in warfare is not.'"' If anything, the taboo against using nuclear weapons is
in all likelihood stronger than the taboo against using CW. Thus, while the
coupling with nuclear weapons is not an unambiguously positive develop-
ment for the robustness of the CW taboo, on balance its effect has been to
distance CW from the arsenal of standard and acceptable means of warfare.
The use of CW has become no less controversial a political event by virtue
of the invention of nuclear weapons.
The universality of this delegitimizing operation with respect to CW ultim-
ately may be contingent upon a corresponding decrease in the allure of
56 Widening Security

possessing nuclear weapons. This has become the primary axis of contesta-
tion around which revolves the acceptability of a p r ~ h i b i t i o n a rnorm
against CW. The resistance of the Arab world to the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) is centered on this disparity.l10 By transforming the CW
norm from a taboo against use into a prohibition on possession, the con-
vention is perceived to perpetuate a discriminatory disarmament regime,
which permits the possession of nuclear weapons by some nations but denies
weapons of mass destruction to other nations.
The argument I make here is that this shift in the site of contestation of
the norm - from earlier debates over the alleged humanitarian benefits of
CW to contemporary efforts to extend the nonproliferation regime of
weapons of mass destruction - is indicative of the consolidation of the taboo
over time. Resistance to the transformation of the norm from use to posses-
sion is restricted to a small group of nations."' In addition, the main thrust
of this resistance has not challenged the unacceptability of using CW so
much as it has questioned the legitimacy of possessing other weapons of
mass destruction, including the definition of what counts as such a weapon.


The origins, development, and functions of the CW taboo attest to the value
of a genealogical analysis of meanings, which searches out the contingency,
domination, chance, and resistances involved in the operation of a moral
discourse. While it exhibits all of these things, the CW taboo is also testi-
mony to the genuine moral rejection of a means of modern warfare that
arose a t a particular historical juncture - one that questioned the untram-
meled technological warfare among the advanced industrialized states of
the civilized world.
In addition to the factors habitually identified in the literature as explain-
ing the CW taboo, this study has uncovered further dimensions of this pro-
hibition that are no less important in giving an adequate account of its
origins and persistence. The importance of these elements - the portrayal of
CW as a weapon against which there is no defense, its symbolic connection
with a notion of civilized conduct, the castigation of CW as a weapon of
the weak akin to poison, the genealogical legacy of the institutionalized
form of the taboo promoted and practiced by political leaders, and so on -
has varied at different moments in the CW experience. In total, however, all
have combined to constitute a tradition of practice that forbids the use of
CW and characterizes it as abnormal behavior among the society of states.
Interpretive and constructivist approaches to phenomena such as norms
in international relations can only enrich our understanding of the world of
global politics. However, the disciplinary hegemony of neopositivist modes of
inquiry in the field of international relations has in the past served to narrow
the range of what counts as legitimate scholarly activity. This methodological
I' + Chemical Weapons 57

c o n f o r m ~ tha\
~ been c'lrrled to such extremes that some scholars - In the
name of defending t h e ~ rpreferred theory - have d ~ s m ~ s s ethe d end of the cold
war as an ~ n s r ~ n ~ f ~data
c a n polnt
t that does not fals~fyw e n t ~ f theory,
~c rather
t h , ~ nallowing that other modes of lnqulry may contrrbute t o the accumula-
tlon of knowledge by the community of scholars.
The recent Influx of " p o s t p o s ~ t ~ v ~ methods
st" I \ thus a welcome devel-
o p m e n t for thc field."' On the other hand, t h e adoption o f putat~vclynovel
methods of lnqulry can all t o o e ' d y turn into a f a d d ~ s hr e p l ~ c a t ~ oofn the
very phenomenon that was to be deposed In the flrst place: the c h o ~ c eof '1
method for ~ t own s s,~ke.The startlng p o ~ n tfor drawlng from the lns~ghts
ot methods such as genealogy 1s the convlctlon that research should be
que"t")n- r,~thcr than m e t h o d - d r ~ v e n . ~ "Methociolog~esshould be judged
by t h e ~ rvaluc In openlng up ~ n s ~ g h t f uImportant,
l, and f r u ~ t f u lavenues o t
lnqulry and t h e ~ rab111n to p r o v d e appropriate 'lnswers to the questions
the) pose.

Author's N o t e

Earlier drafts of this article \vc.1-e presented at Cornell Uni~crsiry'sPeace Studies Progr,iiii; a
Social Sc~enceRewarch < ~ o t ~ ~ ~ c ~ l / M a c Aworkshop
rtliur on norms and national securit); Ithaca,
New York, February 1993; a n d the annual meeting of the American Political Science
Associat~on,Wxhington, I).(:., 2-5 Septernher 1993. I thank rhosc who comriiented o n the
pdper at those forums, as bvell .is Joseph C ~ m ~ l l e rPeter
i, Karrensrein, Stephen Krnsnet; Judith
Reppy, <:hr~st~.ln Heu-Srnir, Henr) Shue, L)anlel Thoti~as,Alexander Wendt, Mark Zaclier, and
three anonymou., re\lewer\, .ill of \vIiom provided valu:~hleconirnents on v.lrlou\ version\ of
this pu)ject. I gratefully acknowledge the support ot .I Social Sc~encesand Humanities Kese.lrcli
Council o t C d n a d ~doctornl fellowship. The epigraph is fro111 t:r~edr~ch Nietrsche, Rcyotd
(;ood iarzri t ~ ~tr,In\.
l , W,ilter K,lutmann ( N e w York: V ~ n r ~ gBook\.
c. 1 %6), apliori\m 108.


addre\\ biologic,il weapon\.

2. Alfred T. MCilian, U.S. deleplte t o the H,igue I'ex-e C.o~~teretlces, is quored in Janies
Iirown Scott, 7%13 /'rocccririrgs of tlw H~lgric,l'cczce Coirfercnc-cs ( N e w York: Oxford Univer\it!.
1'1-e\\. 1920), p. .Zhh.
;. Stockholm Inrcrnat~cmilI'eace Ke\earcli Institute (SII'RI), T / J /'roh/cwz ~ of ( , ' ~ ~ c w r i ~ - ~ r / i r ~ ~ d
N i o l o g ~ ~ z\Y'dr/irr?,
I vol. 4, (:I1 />rs~z~~?rriz~ircnt
Nr,<yotrutions, 1 ')_'0-lL)70(Stockholm: i\lmqv~\r
,111d Wiksell, 197 1 ), 11. 2 1.
4. See Freder~cJ. Brown, (;hcmrc.'~l Wcrrfizrc: I\ St~id),111 (:omtrur~zts (l'r~nceron, N.J.:
Pr~ncrtonLlni\cr\lty he\.1968); Sll'lil, The ProOlriir of (:hcr~rrc'rl i7nd Biologrr~zlWurf'rrc,, vol.
I, 7-11cKise of C N We~lpotzs(Stockhohn: Alniqvist and Wiksell, 1971); ,lnd Sll'lil, The I'uoblrnz
of (~/~ciirrc;zlirrtti 13iolr~~yrcizl W;rrfilrc, col. 5, The I'rclwrtio~of Ctl W! (Stockholm: Almclv~st, ~ n d
Wikscll, 1971). See also kenncrh, "Chemical Weapon\: Restoring the T ~ b o o , "Orhrs
30 (1:all 1 Y86), pp. 443-55; Su\,in WI-~ght,"The Military ,uid the Ne\\, Biology." K~rllctiiiof t/]cz
Atorirr(- Sc-rentrsts 4 1 ( M J ) 198 i), pp. 10- 16; and J o h ~ iEllis v31i <:ourtland Moon, "(:lieniical
W,irf,lre: .\ Forgotten\on," Kullct~ttof t i ~ oAiomrc- .Sr-rcwtrsfs 4 5 (August 1989), pp. 40-4 3.
58 Widening Security

5. See SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, pp. 321-22, and 334; and Brown, Chemical
Warfare, pp. 293-96.
6 . Without dismissing altogether a role for the CW prohibition, Legro offers an organiza-
tional culture explanation for the unpreparedness of militaries and the nonuse of CW. See
Jeffrey Legro, Cooperation Under Fire (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995).
7. The quotation is from Paul Harris, "British Preparations for Offensive Chemical
Warfare 1935-1939," ]oumaI of the Royal United Sevvices Institute for Defence Studies 125
(June 1980), p. 61, emphasis mine. Similarly, the international legal restraints against CW were
at least partially responsible for the low priority given to CW allocations in Germany. See
Dr. Hans Fischer and Dr. Wirth, "What Were the Plans and Intentions of the German High
Command in the Question of Using Chemical Warfare? What Were the Reasons for Refraining
from the Use of Chemical Warfare?" Historical Office of the Chief of the Chemical Corps,
German Chemical Warfare, part 2, Civilian Aspects (Washington, D.C.: Historical Office of
the Chief of the Chemical Corps, 1956), p. 328.
8. The no-first-use pledge was not written into the protocol itself but instead resulted from
the reservations most nations attached to their accessions. These reservations stipulated that
the protocol would cease to be binding toward any power that violated it.
9. See Herman Ochsner, The History of German Chemical Warfare in World War 11, Part 1,
The Military Aspect (Washington, D.C.: Historical Office of the Chief of the Chemical Corps,
1949), p. 23; and Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier's Story (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1951),
p. 279.
10. See Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story
of Chemical and Biological Warfare (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), p. 135; Ochsner, The
History of German Chemical Warfare in World War II, p. 23.
11. See SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, p. 325; and Harris and Paxman, A Higher Form
of Killing, p. 325.
12. The maintenance of the taboo owes no small part to the fortune of history that such cir-
cumstances never arose and to the subsequent importance of the resulting abstinence (whatever
the reasons), which built a tradition of nonuse and reinforced the stigma against CW. The fact
that CW were not used during World War I1 has in and of itself become a major justification for
the CW prohibition. For example, during U.S. Senate hearings over Iraq's use of CW in the early
1980s, it was remarked that CW surely were reprehensible since even Hitler did not use them.
No one present knew why Germany refrained from employing CW during World War 11, but the
salient fact remained: "We do know it did not happen." See U.S. Congress, Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations, United States Policy Toward Iraq - Human Rights, Weapons Proliferation,
and International Law: Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, l 0 l s t Congress, 2d
sess., 15 June 1990, p. 51.
13. These are the words of Major General Henderson. See Harris and Paxman. A Higher
Form of Killing, p. 110.
14. According to a military intelligence officer, the war was expected to he "chemical prob-
ably from the very first hour." See Melissa Healey, "Chemical Attack Would Escalate Allied
Retaliation," Los Angeles Tunes, 21 February 1991, p. Al.
15. See United Nations Security Council, doc. Sl24828; and Chemical Weapons Conventton
Bulletin, no. 17, September 1992, p. 12.
16. Quoted in Healey, "Chemical Attack Would Escalate Allied Retaliation".
17. Thus, CW were not used even as other restraints against US. use of CW versus the
Japanese began to erode toward the end of the war. These included the death of President
Roosevelt, who had been staunchly opposed to CW use, and the effects of American racist
propaganda, which demonized the Japanese and made the use of gas more palatable to much
of the American public. See SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, pp. 294-335.
18. Although the United States did not use lethal CW in Vietnam, it did use riot-control
agents and defoliants, maintaining that use of those agents did not constitute chemical warfare.
See ibid., pp. 162-210. Allegations of Soviet use of CW in Afghanistan, while rampant in the
atmosphere of the cold war, never have been substantiated.
I I Chemical Weapons 59

19. In a sirnil,lr ,pirir, the first volume of the SIPRI study argues that while many factors
prcvrnteci the usc of CW, "at a deeper level, there was the whole question of accepting gas as
1' weapon o f war, w ~ t h~ l the l ~ n s t ~ t u t i o nand
~ ~ lp s y c h o l o g ~ c ~disturbances
l that this w o ~ ~ l d
involve." See ihid., p. 3 3 1.
20. See, for exan~ple,Nicholas F o t ~ o nand Gerard t l f s t r o ~ n Milttciry
, Ethics: Gzlid~l~ttes
P C L ~ unci
C P Wtrr (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, l986), p. 168.
21. John Haldanc, "F.thics and Biological Warfare," Arms Control 8 (May 1987) pp. 24-35.
Although ni.tdc rcgnrd;nr: h;ologic~ilweapons, Haldane's comment< are still relevant. See :ilso
Martin Van Creveld. Techtrology c7nd War (New York, Free Press, 1989), p. 72.
22. Michael M,indeIbau~n. T h e Nuclear Revoltition ((Lmbridge, England: Cnmhridge
University Press, 198 l ) , chap. 4.
23. Indeed, this taken-for-granted q u a l ~ t yof the poison t ~ h o owas In evidence at the H a g ~ ~ e
Conferences. Article 2 3 ( a ) banning poison was reached w ~ t h o u tcontroversy o r even substan-
tive discuss~on;the moral t ~ h o oagainst polson had become .in uncontested norm that needed
no rationale or j~ist~ficatioti. See William 1. Hull, T / J CTtuo H'zgue Conferences (Boston: G ~ n n
anti Co., 1908), pp. 232-3.3. This was in evidence some years earlier a t the Brusselq confer-
ence. See T.J. I,,lwrence, Pritrriples of lnt~rnat~onerl 1 . i ~(Boston: D.C. Heath, 1923),
pp. 55-56; and lames Lor~mer,T I J institutes~ of thc 1 . m ~of~ Ncrfions(Edinburgh: Blackwood
and Sons, 188.3), Appendix 1.
24. For references to the e,irly disdain for poison see Hugo Grotius, T / J I ~. ~ I Lof~ W h cznd
Peare (Ile lure Kelli ac P,ic~sLibri Tres), trans. Francts Kelsey (New York: Bobbs-Merrdl,
l925), bk. 3, c h ~ p s .15-16; Adatn Roherts and R~chardGueltt, Documents o n the 1.~710sof
War (Oxford: Clarendon I'ress, I Y82), p. 29; and A.A. Roherts, Poison in W~lrfare(1.ondon:
William Heinem;lnn, 1915), pp. 52-57.
25. C h r g Schwarzenberger, I.c~ulity of Nttclrar W ( W ~ O I(1.vndon: IS Stevens and Sons,
1958). p. 31.
26. Grot~us,I ~ t of v K<iu nnd Pmcc, hk. 3, chap. 4, sectloti 15. Vattel in 1758 offered 1'
sim~lardefense ot the p r o h i h ~ t ~ oagalnst
n poison weapons, arguing that s ~ ~ means ch only made
war more deadly without e ~ t h e rside galnlng advantage. See Fmer de Vattel, Le Droit dcs Gcns
(The law of nations) (I.eide, Fr'ince: A u s depcns de la compagnle, 1758), vol. 2, bk. 3, chap. 8,
par. 15.5-Sh. A more recent study h ~ followeds a similar line, notlng that "the rule entered into
international lam primarily because medieval nmnarchs were otrrn eliminated by r h e ~ r~r~vals
via poi\on In food or drink. Poison wac thus a very indiv~dualtcticmethod of doing awnv with
,in enemy.'' See Ann Van N'ynen 'I'hom~s,lnd A.J. Thomas, Lkveloprrzmt of Int~rrtat~ortul
Legd Li?n~tutronso n the Ilsr of (:hem~cal'znd Riologtcal Wc,rzi)o~ts,vol. 2, report prepared for
the U.S. Arms Control and 1)isarrnament Agency, 1968, p. 2.54.
27. Margaret Hallissy, Venornous W/o?itirn (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 19871,
pp. 5-6.
28. I.awrence, Principles of Interne7tionirl Laic: p. 533. 111 another formulation, it has been
argued that "a weapon will he restricted in inverse proportion, more or less, to its effectiveness;
that the more effic~etita weapon or method of warfare the less likelihood there is o f ~ t being s
restricted in actton by the rules of war." See M.W. Royse, Aerrczl Bonthardment m d thc
Inteurznt~owalRegulcitiort of \Y"rrfarc>(New York: H . Vinal, 19281, pp. 13 1-32.
29. W.T. M,lllison, "The of War and the luridical (:ontrol of Weapons of M a \
Destruction in General and 1.1m1tedWars," George Washington Reuiew 36 (L)ecernhrr,
1967). pp. 308-46. The quotation is drawn from p. 318.
30. William V. O'Brien, "B1olog1cal/C:he111iC31Wartare and the International Law o f War,"
T h c (;eorgetou~nLaw Journal .Sl (Fall 1962), pp. 1-63,
3 1. Asphyx~at~ng shells were discussed at The Hague even though they had yet to be
developed. Isolated precursor\ of chemical warfare had appeared sporadically in the h~storyof
warfare, but their appearance was so rare that they play a negligible role in the development
of a C W discourse. The history ot such methods can he found in Rudolf Hanslian, ed., Dcr
Chemisc/~cKrreg (The chemical war), vol. I (Berlin: E.S. Mitler and Son, 1937), pp. 1-8;
Wvndham M~les,"The Ide'l o f Chemical Warfare in Modern T~mes,"Journal of the History of
60 Widening Security

Ideas 31 (JanuaryIMarch, 1970), pp. 297-304; SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, pp. 125-27;
and Alden Waitt, Gas Warfare (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1942), pp. 6-12.
32. The conventions, declarations, and other relevant documents of the Hague conferences
are reprinted in James Brown Scott, ed., The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, vol. 2,
Documents (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1909).
33. Ibid, pp. 365-66. The declaration was the product of the Second Subcommission of
the First Commission, which was dedicated to discussions on limiting explosives.
34. A.D. White, The First Hague Conference (Boston: World Peace Foundation 1912),
pp. 82-83.
35. Suggestions to use choking smoke from ships in the Crimean War were rejected by the
British because its effects were perceived to be so horrible that no honorable combatant could use
the means required to produce it. See Miles, "The Idea of Chemical Warfare in Modern Times";
and Clarence J. West, "The History of Poison Gases," Science 49 (2 May 1919), pp. 412-17.
36. See, for example, Calvin DeArmond Davis, The United States and the First Hague
Peace Conference (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1962), p. 175.
37. Excellent discussions of this distinction can be found in Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 202-3; Charles Cross, "Explanation
and the Theory of Questions," Erkenntnis 34 (March 1991), pp. 237-60; and Martin Hollis and
Steve Smith, Explaining and Understanding International Relations (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
38. See Stanley Hoffmann, "An American Social Science: International Relations," Daedalus
106 (Summer 1977), pp. 41-60; and Steve Smith, "Paradigm Dominance in International
Relations: The Development of International Relations as a Social Science," Millennium 16
(Summer 1989), pp. 189-206. This focus also has tended to characterize rationalist regime the-
ory of international relations scholarship, as exemplified by Stephen Krasner, "Structural Causes
and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables," and Robert Keohane "The
Demand for Industrial Regimes," both in Stephen Krasner, ed., International Regimes (Ithaca,
N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), pp. 1-21 and 145-71, respectively.
39. On this characteristic of international relations theory, see Steve Smith, "The Forty
Years' Detour: The Resurgence of Normative Theory in International Relations," Millennium
21 (Winter 1992), pp. 489-506; and Friedrich Kratochwil, "The Embarrassment of Changes:
Neo-Realism as the Science of Realpolitik Without Politics," Review of International Studies
19 (January 1993), pp. 63-80.
40. On different styles of interpretive analysis, see David Hiley, James Bohman, and Richard
Shusterman, eds., The Interpretive Turn (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991); Paul
Rabinow and William Sullivan, eds., Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1987); and Fred Dallmayr and Thomas McCarthy, eds.,
Understanding and Social Inquiry (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977).
On the relationship between genealogy and interpretation, see Michael Gibbons, "Interpretation,
Genealogy, and Human Agency," in Terence Ball, ed., Idioms of Inquiry: Critique and Renewal
in Political Science (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), pp. 137-67.
41. Nietzsche is paraphrased by Alexander Nehemas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 110.
42. See especially Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Walter Kaufmann and
R.J. Hollingdale, trans. (New York: Vintage Books, 1989). This concern recently has gained
adherents in the natural sciences. In his work on evolutionary theory, Stephen Jay Gould has
expounded upon his contention that "current utility may not be equated with historical
origin." See, for example, the chapter entitled "Of Kiwi Eggs and the Liberty Bell," in Bully
for Brontosaurus (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1991), p. 114.
43. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Preface 3.
44. The term "interpretive" highlights the differences between the "how" questions of
understanding meaning and the "why" questions of explaining causal outcomes, while the term
"constructivist" calls attention to the ontological assumptions and causal models that distin-
guish postpositivist methods from the naturalist premises of positivism. See Alexander Wendt,
"Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics," International
1'1 :I (% Chemical Weapons 61

Organization 46 (Spring 1992), pp. 3 9 1 4 2 5 ; Alexander Wendt, "The Agent-Structure Prohletn

in International Relatwns Theory," lnternatiotzal Organiziztron 4 1 (Summer 198?), pp. 335-70;
Friedrich Kratochwil, "Reg~mes,Interpretation, and the 'Science' of Politics: A Reappra~sal,"
Millenni~rm27 (Summer 1988), pp. 263-84; and Mark Ncufeld, "Interpretation and the Science
of International Relations," Keuicw of I n t r r ~ a t i o n a Studies l 19 (.January 1993), pp. 39-6 I.
45. Nietzsche, O n the (;cncalogy of Morals, 3rd essay, aphorism 2 3 (hereafter cited '1s 3.23);
eniphasis origin'il.
46. Michrl Fc,ucault, "Nictzacllc, Gcncalogy, Hisrory," In I'JLI~ Rabinow, rd., The Fl~rrrdrrit
Rc~ldcr(Pantheon Kooks: New York, l984), p. 79.
47. Nehemas, Nietzsche, p. 11.3. The quotation IS froni Fouc:iult, "Nietzsche, Genealogy,
H~story," p. 78.
48. Nietzsche, O n the G e n ~ a l o ~ofy Morals 2.12.
49. Foucault, "Nierz\che, Genealogy, History," p. 8 0
50. Nehemas. Nietzscl~r,pp. 98-1 13.
51. See, tor example, the following works by Michel FouGiult, The Archaco10,qy of
K n o w l e d ~ ea n d t / ~ rlliscolrrsc on 1.ilnguirge (New York: I'antheon Books, 1972); The Hlstor?, of
Sexu~rlit): vol. I, An Introriltction (New York: Vintage Books, 1990); and Powc~r/Kno~rilc~cige:
Sclccted l n t c r l w l s nnd O t l ~ e rWriti~~gs. 1972-1977, ed. C. Gordon (New York: Pantheon Rooks,
52. James F. Keeley, "'Toward ,I I ' o ~ ~ c a u l d l mAn,lly\is of International Reg~mes,"
Intcwzatronid Or,qlrrizatiolr 4 4 (Winter 1990), pp. 8.3- I Oi.
53. See the tollowing works by Michel Foucault: I>iscrplirze ilrrd Pirnish (New York: Vintage
Kooks, 1979); l ' o ~ i ~ e r / k ' n o i c ~ l and
c ~ ~ iI'olrtrcs,
~ ~ ~ ; l'hdosophy, Crtltrrrc (New York: R o ~ ~ t l e d g e ,
54. Roxanne l.ynn Dot?, "The Social Construct~on ot Contemporary Intern,ltion,ll
H~er,irchy." vol. I, 1'h.D. d i s , University o f Minnesota, 199 I, pp. 26-27 a n d 69-70.
55. David Couzens I-lo), "lntroductton," In I h v i d Cou/en\ Hoy, ed., F o ~ c a u / t :A Cr.rtrrLll
Kradcr (Oxford: B a \ ~ lBlackwell, 19891. p. IS.
56. Kratochwil IS caretul to polnr O I I ~In his work o n norms that power is not h ~ partlcu- s
lar focus of concern. Rather, he concentrates o n the consen\u.ll choices of reasoning that lead
t o collectrve knowledge. He acknowledges, however, t h ~ under\tanding r how socially J o l i i ~ n -
ant understandings hccomc nuthorir.~tiveinvolves investigating not simply ratioml dehates hut
also h~storrcaland cultural cxpertences - the focus of the genealog~sr's~ n q u ~ r i eSec s . Friedr~cli
K r , ~ t o c h w ~ lR~rlrs.
, Norr~rs. m d D c ~ i s i o t ~ sO : n thc Cotrcirtions of Pmctical m d l.egnl
Keasorzing in Ir1tc~m~7tioml lielatiotrs 'rnd llomcsti~.Affilrrs iC:~nihridge:Cambridge IJn~versit)
Pres\, 198Y), p. .;i.
57. J,imes Der Derian, 0 1 1 l)rplorm~c-~~ (Oxtord: Basil Kl~ckwcll,1987). p. 48.3.
58. On the s~lenceof r a r ~ o n a l ~ s,~pproaches
t to questions concerning the c o n s t ~ t ~ ~ r iofo n
identities , ~ n dInterest - ~ n dthe c o n t r i h ~ ~ t ~ oont s constructi\ist ,~pproaches- see Wendt,
"Anarchy IS What States M i k c of It."
59. As ch,~racter~zed by othe~-s,the C W taboo represents ,In "irrational" attit~lderow.lrds
technology and 1' "psycho-culturd s i v e r ~ ~ that o ~ ~ simply
" t'lils t o meet the realist expect,~rion
th,~reffective p r o h ~ h t ~ o ,Ire n s attained 0111) tor useless weapon\. See Van C:revcld,,qy
L I I Z K1~7r,
~ p. 177; ' ~ n dManfred I<. Hamm, "Ikterrence, Chemical W'lrfare, and Arms (:ontrol,"
Orbrs 2 9 (Spring 1985), pp. 1 19-1 6.3 at p. 1 19, respect~vel~.
60. AS such, it answers the call for interpretive ,~ppro,~ches to the study of norms rn,~deby
Fr~edrichKratochwil and John Gerard Ruggie, "International Organization: A State of the Art on
the Art of the Stare," l ~ i t ~ r n i z t r o C)rgd&ltro~
~~id 40 (Autunin I Y86), pp. 7.53-75; and offers a
concrete rejoinder to Keohme's challenge for ;I demonstration o t the value of the "sociological"
approach o f "reflectivist" scholars (which he opposes t o the neopositivist model\ ot rarion'~l
actor theory rn the study of norrns and ~ n s t ~ t u t i o n sSee ) . I<obcrt Keohane, "lnrerriationr~l
Institutions: Two Approaches," In Keohane, lntern~ztronalI ~ i s ~ r t r t t ~aonnds Statc Powcr (Ko~~lder,
Colo.: Wcwiew, 1989), pp. 158-79.
6 1 . FI-on1the I.irge I~tcratureo n the political, soci'll, a n d moral status of technology, 1 wdl
c o n f ~ r ~~nyself
e to notmg 1.nngdon W~tiner'ssunimary in / \ r t t o t ~ o ~ v r Tecl~rtology:
~~ts Tyhnic-s
62 Widening Security

Out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1977);

George Grant's incisive essays in Technology and Empire (Toronto: Anansi, 1969) and
Technology and Justice (Toronto:Anansi, 1986); and the essays in Tom Darby, ed., Sojourns
in the New World (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1986) and in Paul Durbin, ed.,
Technology and Responsibility (Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1987).
62. Keeley, "Towards a Foucauldian Analysis," pp. 96-99.
63. A more comprehensive study is provided in Richard Price, " A Genealogy of the
Chemical Weapons Taboo" Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., 1994.
64. Although the ban was rejected by the U.S. delegation at both Hague conferences, the
remarks o f one member o f the U.S. commission attests to the tentative emeraence o f a norm
proscribing gas shells. As he noted, "a certain disposition has been observed to attach odium
to the view adopted by this Commission in this matter." See Scott, Documents, p. 37.
65. On the emergence o f the notion o f a civilized family o f nations, see Gerrit W . Gong,
The Standard of 'Civilization' in Internatzonal Society (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1984).
66. See, for example, Times (London,21-29 April 1915; and James Morgan Read, Atrocity
Propaganda: 1914-1919 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1941),pp. 195-96. While
many argued that the use o f CW was cruel, these arguments rarely compared the effectso f CW
with other weapons such as high explosives. This stands in contrast to the arguments o f those
who have opposed prohibitions on CW. This has been a consistent feature o f the discourse on
the legitimacy o f CW.
67. See Ministry o f Munitions, pt. 2 o f "Chemical Warfare Supplies," History of the
Ministry of Munitions, vol. 11, The Supply of Munitions (London: Her Majesty's Stationery
Office,1921); C.H. Foulkes, Gas! The Story of the Special Brigade (London:William Blackwood
and Sons, 1934); and L.F. Haber, The Poisonous Cloud (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1986).
68. Rudolf Hanslian, Der Chemische Krieg (The chemical war) (Berlin: E.S. Mittler and
Son, 1937), p. 20; and SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, p. 45. The French at first banned the
use o f shells containing phosgene and prussic acid (as did the British) and only permitted the
former when the situation at Verdun appeared critical at the end o f February 1916. The prus-
sic acid ban was withdrawn later, the agent was employed for the first time by the French at
the Somme on 1 July 1916. See Foulkes, Gas, p. 305. While postwar accounts must be treated
with due caution, it should be noted that the director o f the French chemical services argued
in 1919 that these shells were held in reserve until the Germans had used gas shells that had a
toxicity comparable to phosgene - that is, until the Germans had violated the letter o f the
Hague declaration. See E. Vinet, "La Guerre de Gaz et les Travaux des Services Chimiques
Francais" (The gas war and the operations o f the French Chemical Service), Chemie et Industne
2 (1January 1919), p. 1403.
69. For evidence that nonuse o f CW was the product o f such a restraint, see Ministry o f
Munitions, The Supply of Munitions, pp. 10-11; Haber, The Poisonous Cloud, pp. 224-25;
Foulkes, Gas, p. 296; and Brown, Chemical Warfare, p. 45.
70. This view has been expressed by groups such as the American Legion and can be seen
in Foulkes's rather enthusiastic assessments o f gas as a weapon. See Congressional Record,
69th Congress, 2d sess., 10 November-6 December 1926 and January 1927, vol. 68, pt. I ; and
Foulkes, Gas, respectively.
71. The quotation is from Ann Van Wynen Thomas and A.J. Thomas, Legal Limits on the
Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons (Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press,
1970), p. 141.
72. The fact that violations often play a crucial role in the development o f norms, as noted
by Foucault, points to a difficultyo f applying the positivist model o f explanation to norms: a
violation o f a norm does not necessarily invalidate it. See Friedrich Kratochwil and John
Gerard Ruggie, "International Organization: A State o f the Art on the Art o f the State,"
International Organization 40 (Autumn 1986), pp. 753-75.
73. U.S. Department o f State, Conference on the Limrtation of Armament (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,1922), p. 730.
74. On Hughes's strategy, see Charles E. Hughes, "Possible Gains," in American Society
o f International Law, Proceedings of the American Society of Internatzonal Law (Washington,
D.C.: American Society o f International Law, 1927), pp. 1-17.
Chemical Weapons 63

75. At least until 1992, when agreement was reached on the Chemical Weapons Convention.
76. Friedrich Nietzsche, H I < M I All-Too-H~~n~mz,~, trans. Marion Faher with Stephen
Lmhmann Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), p. 67.
77. Brown, (:hc~mical W'arfare, p. 180. O n these alarmist C~JIITIS, see also Tlrnes (Lmntlon),
3 April 192.3, p. 7; SIPRI, The Rise of CB Weapons, pp. 247-48; and U.S. Congress, Senate
Special Comniittw Invest~garingthe M u n ~ t ~ o nIndustry, s Mtrnltions Industry: Hearwigs Beforr
the, Sperznl Conitnittee In~wstigut~rzg the M u n ~ t i o n sI n d r t s t r ~73rd Congress, 2d sess., 1 9 . 5 , pt.
1 1 and 12, pp. 2 4 0 3 4 ~ n c l2470-71. F o r example, a N ~ I York , Times headline ( 13 M ~ r c h
192 1 , p. I ) proclaimed "W'lr's Newest and Deadliest Weapon; 3 Drops of Poison Kill A n y O n e
They Touch," based o n reports circulated by the 17,s. Chemical Warfare S e r v m .
78. The turnaround in asessments of gas wartare hy these propagandists was remarkatlle.
In contrast to earlier warriings of the catastrophic potential of CW, see the revised assessrlients
by members of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in New Yolk Tmes, 10 September 1926, p. 6;
and 26 November 1926, p. 12. In a ~nonienrof unsurpassed iron!: the president of the A~nerlcan
Chemtcal Soc~erydeclared thar the widespread feeling .igatn\r g ~ was s the result of hysteria and
propaganda. Ser N r w York T~rtzes,I I Decemher 1926, p. -3.
79. SIPRI, 7 h e Rise of CB Weapons, p. 247. See also Editorial, Times (London), 3 April
1923, p. 7; and Haber, Tlw Polsoiro~(sC:lotid, pp. 288, 307, and 317. By 1927, a N t w York
Tlitles editorial ( I h Fehruar) 1927, p. 2 2 ) had d ~ s m ~ s s ethe d ex,iggerated fears of C W as "sheer
romancing," noting thar the previous war had demonstr,lted that high explosives were f'lr
more destructive.
80. T h ~ sargument parallels the case made by David Camp17ell that representattons of
" o u r d e " threklts are endemic to .ill states In the ongoing process of securing national Iden-
t~ties.These depictions of danger are not simply the response t o objective condttlons but
involve the Interpretive scripting of danger through political discourse. See David Campbell,
Wrrtlng Security ( M ~ n n e a p o l ~University
s: of Minnesota Pres\, 1992).
81. Balfour is quoted in U.S. Dep'lrtrnent of State, (:orrfcrcnce o n the L.inuaztron of
Arninment, p. 7.50.
82. The quotattons are both from ]hid., p. 594.
83. Thus the llnited Sr'ltes pushed for the prohihtion at the Washington conference of
1921-22 arid the Geneva conference ot 1925 even though it recognized that I C "would
undoubtedly give up a material advantage ~f gas warfare u c r e abolished." See U.S. Congress,
Senate Suhcomniittee o n Ui\armament, Disarmament rmtf See-rrrity: A Collertiorz of Do(-urnents
191')-5Y. 84th Congress, 2d sess. (Washington, D.C.: 1J.S. (;ovcrnment Printing Office, l ').56),
p. -01.
84. The riw of the wctety of states I S associated w ~ r hthe work of Bull and Watson. See in
particular Hedle? 13~111,'~'/J(J A l l a r ~ ~ / ~Sorlety
i c ~ l / (New York: C o l u m h ~ aUniversity Press, 1977);
and Hedley Bull and Watson, eds., The ~.Y/~ili2~11Jil of I~~ternatio?za/ Societ)' (Oxtord:
CRxendon Press. 1984).
8.5. See Gong. The S t m i l ~ r dof '(:i~~ilrzat~on' rtz I i r t c r r ~ a t r o ~Society
~ ~ i l 0 1 1 the h~storyof the
quest~oningand discredit~ngof the idea of war, see John Mucller, Retreat from hJOt?Isifdy: 'l%e
O l ~ s o l e s r ~ ~ rofi r Malor
r Wor ( N e w York: B m c Books, 1989).
86. V m Creveld, %d~ilo/og?'fltztf W~7r,11). 71.
87. O'Connell, Of Arrrls (2nd Mcn.
88. See, for example, Anthony Eden's impassioned \perch reported In the Nrzo York
T~lric~s, 2 1 A p r ~ l1936, p. 18.
89. For e x , ~ ~ n p lthe e , l1.S. military "denied that there were any lessons t o he learned trom
the use of gas as a weapon of opportunity against 1' totally unprepared enemy In 3 colonial
war." See Brown, C:h~vvrzrnl Warfare, p. 145. For J. similar German assessment, see Rolf-Dieter
Muller, "World Power Status Through the Use ot Poison <;as? German Preparation5 for
Chemical Warfare 1919-1945," in Wilhem D e ~ s t ,ed., 7'hc (;ertnan Military in the Age of
'Ii1tizl W'IY ( W ~ r w ~ c k s h i rEngland:
e, Berg Publishers, 198.51, pp. 171-209.
90. George Quester, L>etcrreirc~eRefi~rcHiroshmw (New Brunswick, N.J.: Trrlnsact~on
Kooks, 19861, p. 78. Thu5, w h ~ l ereports o f Japan's use of CW against the Chinese were
Ignored, even the suggesrlon that C W w ~ bse ~ n gcontemplated 111 Spain drew preemptory atten-
tion froni Britain. The use of tear gas by government forces w ~ reported s and the Insurgents
64 Widening Security

claimed that they, too, had gas but "refuse to break the international law which forbids its use."
See Times (London), 19 August 1936, p. 10. In response, Britain sent its diplomats to investi-
gate these allegations and convey the grave consequences that might follow from the use of gas
even in reprisal. See Times (London) 8 September 1936, p. 12.
91. Mueller, Retreat from Doomsday. Similarly, Fukuyama has drawn a sharp distinction
between the power politics behavior of the Third World and peaceful relations among industrial
democracies - the historical and posthistorical parts of the world. See Francis Fukuyama, The
End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992). See also Michael Doyle, "Kant,
Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs," pt. 1 and 2, Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (Summer
and Fall 1983), pp. 205-235 and 323-353; and James Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, "A Tale
of Two Worlds: Core and Periphery in the Post-Cold War Era," International Organization 46
(Spring 1992), pp. 467-91.
92. And, as Adas has demonstrated, it was the level of technological sophistication -rather
than race, religion, morality, or other factors - that served as the chief standard by which the
West judged the degree of civilization of other societies. See his exhaustive account in Michael
Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989).
93. Giornale d'ltalia (Italy) as reported in New York Times, 4 July 1935, p. 1. See also Amy
Gurowitz, "The Expansion of International Society and the Effects of Norms," manuscript,
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., 1993.
94. See "Paper Interviews Aziz on Kurds, Other Issues," Kuwait AL-QABAS, 31 October
1988 (in Arabic), Foreign Broadcast Information Servlce (FBIS), 2 November 1988, p. 27; and
"WAKH Reports Khayrallah 1 5 September Press Conference," Manama WAKH, 15 September
1988 (in Arabic), FBIS 16 September 1988, pp. 23-24.
95. For examples see the German accounts as reported in "Through German Eyes," Times
(London), 29 April 1915, p. 6 from which the quotation is drawn; and James Garner, Inter-
national Law and the World War (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), pp. 274-76.
96. Congressional Record 69th Congress, 2d sess., vol. 68, pt. 1, p. 150.
97. As stated by a U.S. senator, "We all know that any proliferation of nuclear weapons
threatens humanity. Now we are learning that for other, less costly, easier-to-make weapons,
far less sophistication is required, although they may pose a threat approaching the horror of
nuclear war and nuclear arms. That is why some are calling chemical and biological weapons
the poor man's atomic bomb." U.S. Congress, Chemical Warfare: Arms Control and
Nonproliferation: Joint Hearing Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Sub-
committee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation and Government Processes, 98th Congress, 2d sess.,
28 June 1984, p. 34.
98. New York Times, 2 July 1988, p. A3.
99. "Paris Paper Interviews Aziz on Chemical Weapons," Baghdad INA, 18 January 1989
(in Arabic) Near East and Southeast Asia, in FBIS 19 January 1989, p. 21.
100. United Nations, United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, vol. 14 (New York: United
Nations, 1989), chap. 11.
101. Pierre Morel,"The Paris Conference on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,"
Disarmament 12 (Summer 1989), pp. 1 2 7 4 4 .
102. Quoted from Esmat Ezz, "The Chemical Weapons Convention: Particular Concerns
of Developing Countries," Proceedings of the Thirty-Ninth Pugwash Conference on Science
and World Affairs (Cambridge, Mass.: Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs,
1989), p. 216.
103. As one author has remarked, "The major nations' unwillingness to eliminate their
nuclear weapons while resisting further chemical (and nuclear) proliferation is seen in some
Third World nations as the height of hypocrisy. It sends a message that the lesser nations
aren't mature enough for the most powerful of military capabilities." See Victor A. Utgoff,
"Neutralizing the Value of Chemical Weapons: A Strong Supplement to Chemical Weapons
Arms Control," in Joachim Krause, ed., Security Implications of a Global Weapons Ban
(Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1991), p. 97. See also Geoffrey Kemp, "The Arms Race after
the Iran-Iraq War," in Efraim Karsh, ed., The Iran-Iraq War (New York: St. Martin's Press,
1989), pp. 269-79.
r Chemical Weapons 65

104. Morel, "The I'aric Conference o n the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," p. 142.
10.5. Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealog); History," pp. 85-86. See also James Scott, Dam-
rn~ltionand the Arts of Kesrsttrncr ( N e w Haven, Conti.: Yale University Press, 1990).
106. Indeed, I i ~ g h - p r e c ~ s ~conventional
on rnun~tionshad heen defined as weapons ot mass
destruction in Soblet md~t,lry I~terature of the 1980s. See Stephen R. Covlngton, "The
Evolution of Sov~etT h ~ n k ~ no ng the Util~tvof Chemical Wartare In 3 Major European Armed
Contl~ct,"in Krauw, Sec.rrrrt!~ltnp/~c~ltions of il Glohal (:hrnrr<-irlWfvzpons Biltr, pp. 9-1 0.
107. H<]st<,r~ (;lr,hr, 17 Fcl>ru.irY 199 1, p. 2 0 .
108. This 15 not t o sav, however, that the view has not h e w expressed pr~vately In the
developing world - though not 111 official p ~ ~ b l discourseic - that t o die by cheni~calw x p o n s
1s neither more nor less horr~hlethan t o die by bullet 01-h m e . See, for example, the temlnony
of Kr,ld Roherts 111 U.S. C.ongrcs3, C/ Wnrfi~rr.A r n ~ s( h t r o l ilnd Nonpro/ifirdtron:
101~rtHeirrrng Rrfi~rethe .Sc~mte( : ~ m t t ~ ~ ton t e cForrrgn K c l ~ r t r ~mrd
~ n ~the Stthromrnlttw on
Fnerg): Nut-lcor I'rolifcrcrtron, 'rnd < ; o l w n m m t Pro<-rssrs,98th Congress, 2d sess., 28 June
1984. pp. 60-6 I .
109. N i m T,ltinenwalJ and Richard Price, "Norm5 .lnd Ikterrence: The Nucle,lr ~rnd
Clieni~calWe'lpons Taboos," paper presented at a Social Science Research Council/MacArthur
conterence entrrled, "Norm\ ,lnd National Security," Srantord University, Stanford, Calif.. 7-8
Octoher 1994.
1 10. James F. I.eon;~rd,"Roll~ngh c k Chemic,~lP r ~ l i t e r ~ l t ~ o nArms , " Control T ) t l q 22
(October 1992). pp. 13-1 8.
11 I . At the tlme of wrltlng, 1.57 nations had s ~ g n e dthe Chemical Weapons Convent~on.
112. Joseph Lapid, "'['he Third Ikbate: O n the Prospect\ of International Theory in a
Post-posit~v~stt,:r,~," Intcrnirtional Strctlic~sQ u ~ z r t e r 33
l ~ (September 1989), pp. 23-5-54,
11.3. See Wendt, "Anarchy is W h ~ Stares t Make ot It."
Securitization and Desecuritization
Ole Waever

uring the mid-1980s, observers frequently noticed that the concept
of security had been subjected to little reflection in comparison with
how much and how strongly it had been used. Only a few years later,
conceptual reflections on the concept of security have become so common
that it is almost embarrassing to, once again, discuss or re-conceptualize
security. Nonetheless, in this chapter I present one possible perspective on
security, and assess its implications in terms of four different security agendas.
My primary aim here is not to provide a detailed discussion of this new
approach - a more detailed exposition can be found elsewhere1 - but to illus-
trate the contrast between this perspective and more traditional approaches,
which I intend to bring out via conceptual discussion and by addressing
selected "security debates."
I could begin by expressing a certain discontent with the "traditional pro-
gressive" or "established radical" ways of dealing with the concept and
agenda of security. The traditional progressive approach is: 1)to accept two
basic premises of the established discourse, first that security is a reality prior
to language, is out there (irrespective of whether the conception is "object-
ive" or "subjective," is measured in terms of threat or fear), and second the
more security, the better; and 2) to argue why security should encompass
more than is currently the case, including not only "xx" but also "yy,"
where the latter is environment, welfare, immigration and refugees, etc. With
this approach, one accepts the core meaning of "security" as uncontested,
pushing instead in the direction of securitizing still larger areas of social life.
Still, in the final analysis, is it all to the good that problems such as envir-
onmental degradation be addressed in terms of security? After all, in spite
of all the changes of the last few years, security, as with any other concept,
carries with it a history and a set of connotations that it cannot escape.
At the heart of the concept we still find something to do with defense and
the state. As a result, addressing an issue in security terms still evokes an
image of threat-defense, allocating to the state an important role in address-
ing it. This is not always an improvement.

Source: Ronny Lipschutz (ed.), On Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995),
pp. 46-86.
1 Securitization and Desecuritization 67

Why not turn this procedure upside down? In place of accepting impli-
citly the meaning of "sccurity" as given and then attempting to broaden its
coverage, why not try instead to put a mark o n the concept itself, by enter-
ing into and through its core? This means changing the tradition by taking
it seriously rather than criticizing it from the ~ u t s i d e I. ~begin by consider-
ing security as a concept and a word. Next, I discuss security as a speech
act. In the third part o f the essay, I describe four cases of securitizution and
de-securitization. Finally, I ask whether we might not want to use "secur-
ity" as it is classically understood, after all.

Security: T h e Concept a n d t h e Word

During the 1980s we witnessed a general move to broaden the security

agenda.' One approach was to move from a strict focus on the security of
the state (national security) toward a broader or alternative focus on the
security of people, either as individuals o r as a global or international col-
lectivity. The security of individuals can be affected in numerous ways;
indeed, economic welfare, environmental concerns, cultural identity, and
political rights are germane more often than military issues in this respect.
The major problem with such an approach is deciding where to stop, since
the concept of security otherwise hecomes a synonym for everything that is
politically good or desirable. How, then, can we get any clear sense of the
specific character of security issues, as distinct from other problems that
beset the human condition? To what extent can we apply any of the methods
and lessons of security studies to this broadened agenda?
Johan Galtung and J a n Mberg have formulated an alternative concept of
security, based on four sets of positive goals related to human needs: sur-
vival, development, freedom, and identity. Within this framework, security
becomes "the combined defence policy for each need category, the totality of
defence endeavours of the entire human-societal o r g a n i ~ a t i o n . "The
~ result
is a holistic program for world society and its development, welfare, and so
on. This is a wholly legitimate approach, of course, but does it impinge at
all on security debates? Certainly, the central actors and theorists in the field
do not feel affected or threatened by this framework.' Moreover, there is
no basic logic to this wider conception of security except for the corrective1
mirror image of the traditional concept. And, in addition, the baseline in the
Galtung/Bberg conception is the individual level. Security is then linked
to all other goals, since they are all generated from the individual level: the
individual has various needs and can be hurt by threats to these needs, and
this makes everything a potential security problem. At least three, inter-
related problems follow: First, the concept of security becomes all-inclusive
and is thereby emptied of content; second, the lack of explicit attention to
the connotative core of classical security makes the Galtung/Mberg approach
an innocent contributor to the reproduction - and even expansion - of secur-
itization; and, third, there is a lack of political effect on "security," as trad-
itionally defined.
68 Widening Security

Widening along the referent object axis - that is, saying that "security is
not only military defense of the state, it is also x and y and z" - has the unfor-
tunate effect of expanding the security realm endlessly, until it encompasses
the whole social and political agenda. This is not, however, just an unhappy
coincidence or a temporary lack of clear thinking. The problem is that, as
concepts, neither individual security nor international security exist. National
security, that is, the security of the state, is the name of an ongoing debate, a
tradition, an established set of practices and, as such, the concept has a rather
formalized referent; conversely, the "security" of whomever/whatever is a
very unclear idea. There is no literature, no philosophy, no tradition of "secur-
ity" in non-state terms; it is only as a critical idea, played out against the con-
cept and practices of state security, that other threats and referents have any
meaning. An abstract idea of "security" is a nonanalytical term bearing little
relation to the concept of security implied by national or state security.
To the extent that we have an idea of a specific modality labelled "security"
it is because we think of national security and its modifications and limitations,
and not because we think of the everyday word "security." The discourse
on "alternative security" makes meaningful statements not by drawing pri-
marily on the register of everyday security but through its contrast with
national security. Books and articles such as Jan @berg's At Sikre Udvikling
og Udvikle Sikkerhed, Richard H. Ullman's "Redefining Security," and Jessica
Tuchman Mathews's "Redefining Security" are, consequently, abundant with
"not only," "also" and "more than" arguments6 This reveals that they have
no generic concept of the meaning of security - only the one uncritically
borrowed from the traditional view, and multiplied and extended to new
fields. Thus, it seems reasonable to be conservative along this axis, accepting
that "security" is influenced in important ways by dynamics at the level
of individuals and the global system, but not by propagating unclear terms
such as individual security and global security. The concept of security refers
to the state.
The first edition of Barry Buzan's People, States and Fear (1983) failed
to make clear how this problem might be handled. There was an obvious
tension between the title of the book and its subtitle, The National Security
Problem in International Relations. The three levels of analysis - individual,
state and international system - were central to Buzan's argument, although
national security remained, in some sense, privileged. Still, was it Buzan's
intention to make a "triple-decker" out of the concept of security, or was
he simply providing a contextualization of national security? This point
has been clarified in the second edition of the book (1991), where Buzan
argues that the state level is privileged even as national security cannot
be comprehended at the state level alone. What national security links to
at the other levels is not primarily individual security and international
security, but dynamics and political processes of various kinds at these other
Buzan has shown powerfully that national security can neither be suffi-
ciently understood nor realistically achieved from a perspective limited to
\\ ,F'\ ~r Securitization and Desecuritization 69

one's own state. National security is fundamentally dependent on inter-

national dynamics (especially regional ones), but this is not the same as a rela-
tionship between national security and international security. Therefore, as
indicated in Figure 1, I do not locate security at three levels but at the center
of the hourglass image.
"Security," in other words, has to be read through the lens of national
Of course, "security" has an everyday meaning (being secure, safe, not
threatened). Quite separate from this, though, the term "security" has acquired
a number of connotations, assumptions, and images derived from the "inter-
national" discussion of national security, security policy, and the like. But, in
these discussions, the conceptualization of security has little to do with appli-
cation of the everyday meaning to an object (nation or state), followed by an
examination as to when the state is secure (as if "security" possessed an
independent, stable, context-free meaning that could be added to another
stable, independently defined object, the state).
Rather, the label "security" has become the indicator of a specific prob-
lematique, a specific field of practice. Security is, in historical terms, the
field where states threaten each other, challenge each other's sovereignty, try
to impose their will o n each other, defend their independence, and so on.
Security, moreover, has not been a constant field; it has evolved and, since
World War 11, has been transformed into a rather coherent and recogniz-
able field. In this process of continuous, gradual transformation, the strong
military identification of earlier times has been diminished - it is, in a sense,
always there, but more and more often in n~etaphoricalform, as other wars,
other challenges - while the images of "challenges to sovereignty" and
defense have remained central.
If we want to rethink or reconstruct the concept of security, therefore, it
is necessary that we keep an eye on the entire field of practice. This is con-
trary to the now-standard debates on "redefining security," inasmuch as
those who want radically to rethink the concept generally tend to cancel out

Figure I : Hourglass Model of Security

National (state)level

Individual level dynamics

70 Widening Security

the specific field. The concept is thus reduced to its everyday sense, which is
only a semantic identity, not the concept of security. Of course, both choices
are completely legitimate, but this question of language politics depends ultim-
ately on what we wish to accomplish. If our intent is to determine when we
are secure, the investigation can address many levels. If, however, we want
to add something new to ongoing debates on "security" (in strategic studies)
and national interests, we must begin with those debates, taking on that
problematique, so that we can get at the specific dynamics of that field, and
show how these old elements operate in new ways and new places.
The specificity, in other words, is to be found in the field and in certain typ-
ical operations within the field (speech acts - "security" - and modalities -
threat-defense sequences), not in a clearly definable objective ("security") or a
specific state of affairs ("security"). Beginning from the modality of specific
.- of interactions in a specific social arena, we can rethink the concept
"security" in a way that is true to the classical discussion. By working from
the inside of the classical discussion, we can take the concepts of national secur-
ity, threat, and sovereignty, and show how, on the collective level, they take on
new forms under new conditions. We can then strip the classical discussion of
its preoccupation with military matters by applying the same logic to other
sectors, and we can de-link the discussion from the state by applying similar
moves to society (as I shall show, below). With this, we maintain a mode of
thinking, a set of rules and codes from the field of "security" as it has evolved
and continues to evolve.
To start instead from being secure in the everyday sense means that we
end up approaching security policy from the outside, that is, via another
language game. My premise here is, therefore, that we can identify a spe-
cific field of social interaction, with a specific set of actions and codes,
known by a set of agents as the security field. In international society, for
example, a number of codes, rules, and understandings have been estab-
lished that make international relations an intersubjectively defined social
reality possessing its own specific laws and issue^.^ National security is simi-
larly social in the sense of being constituted intersubjectively in a specific
field,9 and it should not be measured against some real or true yardstick of
"security" derived from (contemporary) domestic society.
An alternative route to a wider concept of security is to broaden the secur-
ity agenda to include threats other than military ones. When widening takes
place along this axis, it is possible to retain the specific quality characterizing
security problems: Urgency; state power claiming the legitimate use of extra-
ordinary means; a threat seen as potentially undercutting sovereignty, thereby
preventing the political "we" from dealing with any other questions. With
this approach, it is possible that any sector, at any particular time, might be
the most important focus for concerns about threats, vulnerabilities, and
defense. Historically, of course, the military sector has been most important.10
Strategic studies often focused on the military aspects of security, whereas
the realists and neorealists of International Relations seldom a priori defined
military threats as primary. Indeed, Morgenthau, Aron, and many others took
,iti I Securitization and Desecuritization 71

the position that, to ensure its security, a state would make its own choices
according to expediency and effectiveness, and these might not always involve
military means. A state would make threats in the sector in which the best
options were available. A response (security policy, defense) would often, but
not always, have to he made in the same sector, depending on whether one
sector might overpower another, and military means simply were often the
strongest available. Logically speaking, the means to security should be sec-
ondary to the ends - that is, a conflict and the political decisions involved, as
Clausewitz pointed out - and, thus, it has seemed a viable strategy to expand
security in terms of sectors while keeping the state focus. Indeed, this is not
only an academic option, it is also, to a large degree, what has taken place in
political discourse, as the name of the field has through this century changed
from war to defense to "security."
Still, what ties all of this together as security? When Buzan moves from his
discussion of security in military terms to security in the political, economic,
ecological, and societal sectors, the logic clearly says that security begins as a
military field that is increasingly challenged by these new sectors. The ques-
tion remains, however: What made the military sector conspicuous, and
what now qualifies the others to almost equal status? While Buzan does not
squarely address this question, he does hint at an answer. Military threats
have been primary in the past because they emerged "very swiftly" and with
"a sense of outrage at unfair play"; if defeated, a state would find itself laid
bare to imposition of the conqueror's will." Such outcomes used to charac-
terize the military sector. But, if the same overturning of the political order
can be acconlplished by economic or political methods, these, too, will con-
stitute security problems."
From the discussion above, it follows that the hasic definition of a secur-
ity problem is sonlething that can undercut the political order within a state
and thereby "alter the premises for all other questions." As Buzan shows, the
literature largely treats security as "freedom from threat," both objectively
and subjectively." Threats seen as relevant are, for the most part, those that
effect the self-dctermination and sovereignty of the unit. SuruivaP4 might
sound overly dramatic but it is, in fact, the survival of the unit as a basic polit-
ical unit - a sovereign state - that is the key. Those issues with this undercut-
ting potential must therefore be addressed prior to all others because, if they
are not, the state will cease to exist as a sovereign unit and all other questions
will become irrelevant. This, then, provides us with a test point, and shows
what is lost if we "de-compose" the state by individualizing security. With the
approach I have suggested here, even if challenges can operate on the differ-
ent components of the state, they must still pass through one focus: Do the
challenges determine whether the state is to be or not to be?15
When a specific issue is turned into a test case, everything becomes con-
centrated at one point, since the outcome of the test will frame all future
questions. This logic is spelled out most clearly, perhaps, by Clausewitz, who
shows that, although politics has to be prior to military, the logic of war -
the ziel of war, victory - replaces the logic of politics - the specific zweck.
72 Widening Security

To enter a war is a political decision, but once in, one has to play according
to the grammar of war, not politics, which would mean playing less well and
losing the political aim, as well. Rousseau put it thus: "War is not, therefore,
a relation of man to man but a relation of state to state, in which individuals
are enemies only by accident, not as men or even as citizens, but as soldiers,
not as members of the homeland, but as its defenders."16 Rousseau's argu-
ment is presented here in terms of literal war, but the observation applies to
"metaphorical war" that is, to other "tests of will and strength."17
The inner logic of war follows from its basic character as an uncon-
strained situation, in which the combatants each try to function at max-
imum efficiency in relation to a clearly defined aim. During war, a state is
confronted with a test of will - testing whether it is still a sovereign unit -
in which the ability to fend off a challenge is the criterion for forcing the
others to acknowledge its sovereignty and identity as a state.18 It is, in fact,
not the particular means (military) that define a situation as war, it is the
structure of the "game." Logically speaking, therefore, it is a coincidence
that military means have traditionally been the ultimo ratio.
The basic logic of Clausewitz's argument thus follows from the situation of
an ultimate test: what then is logically to be done? "War is an act of violence
pushed to its utmost bounds; as one side dictates the law to the other, there
arises a sort of reciprocal action, which logically must lead to an extreme."19
The loser is forced to submit, and the outcome is defined in polar terms:
victory-defeat. From this, it follows that the first logic for each party is: "Throw
forward all forces" (therefore the inherent tendency for escalation in war); sub-
sequently, various specific mechanisms intervene to modify this injunction.
War, then, is "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to ful-
fil our and, therefore, "War, insofar as it is a social act, presupposes
the conflicting wills of politically organized c~llectivities."~~ It is in this
struggle for recognition (Hegel) that states establish their identity as states.
Nonetheless, this struggle can take place in spheres other than the mili-
tary one; the priority of military means is a contingent, technical feature.
Consequently, the logic of war - of challenge-resistance(defense)-escalation-
recognitionldefeat - could be replayed metaphorically and extended to other
sectors. When this happens, however, the structure of the game is still derived
from the most classical of classical cases: war.

From Alternative Security to Security, the Speech Act

Reading the theoretical literature on security, one is often left without a

good answer to a simple question: What really makes something a security
problem? As I have suggested above, security problems are developments
that threaten the sovereignty or independence of a state in a particularly
rapid or dramatic fashion, and deprive it of the capacity to manage by itself.
This, in turn, undercuts the political order. Such a threat must therefore be
met with the mobilization of the maximum effort.
\\ ~wi't Securitization and Desecuritization 73

Operationally, however, this means: In naming a certain development a

security problem, the "state" can claim a special right, one that will, in the
final instance, always be defined by the state and its elites. Trying to press
the kind of unwanted fundamental political change on a ruling elite is simi-
lar to playing a game in which one's opponent can change the rules at any
time slhe likes. Power holders can always try to use the instrument of sectw
ztizution of a n issue to gain control over it. By definition, something is a
security problem when the elites declare it to be so:

And because the End of this Instltutlon [the Levlathan, the Sovereign], is
the Peace and Defense ot them all; and whosoever has r g h t to the End,
has r ~ g h tto the Means; ~t belongeth of Klght, to whatsoever Man, or
Assembly that hath the Sovera~gnty,to be Judge both of the meanes of
Peace and Defense; and 'ilso of the hmdrmces, and d~sturbancesof the
same; and to do whatsoever he shall thmk necessary to be done, both
betore hand, for the preservmg of Peace m d Secur~ty,by prevention of
Lhscord ~t home and H o s t ~ l ~from
t y abroad; and, when Peace and Securlty
are lost, for the recovery of the same."

Thus, that those who administer this order can easily use it for specific, self-
serving purposes is something that cannot easily be avoided.
What then is security? With the help of language theory, we can regard
"security" as a speech act. In this usage, security is not of interest as a sign that
refers to something more real; the utterance itsclf is the act. By saying it, sorne-
thing is done (as in betting, giving a promise, naming a ship)." By uttering
"security," a state-representative moves a particular development into a spe-
cific area, and thereby claims a special right to use whatever means are neces-
sary to block it."
The clearest illustration of this phenomenon - on which I will elaborate
below -occurred in Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War, where
"order" was clearly, systematically, and institutionally linked to the survival
of the system and its elites. Thinking about change in East-West relations
and/or in Eastern Europe throughout this period meant, therefore, trying to
bring about change without generating a "securitization" response hy elites,
which would have provided the pretext for acting against those who had
overstepped the boundarm of the perm~tted.
< onsequently, to ensure that t h ~ mechan~srn
s would not be triggered, actors
hcid to keep t h e ~ challenges
r below a certaln threshold and/or through the pol~t-
~ c aprocess
l - whether n a t ~ o n or
~ ~~nternat~onal
l - have the threshold negot~ated
upward. As Egbert Jahn put it, the task was to turn threats Into challenges; to
move developments from the q h e r e of exlstent~alf e x to one where they could
be handled by ordmary means, a5 politics, economy, culture, and so on. A5 part
of t h ~ exercise,
s a cruc~alpolitical and theoret~calIssue became the d e f m t ~ o nof
"intervention" or "lnterterence In domestlc affairs," whereby change-orlented
agents tried, through ~nternationallaw, d~plomacy,m d varlous kmds of polit-
~cs,to rase the threshold and make more mteractlon possible.
74 Widening Security

Through this process, two things became very clear. First, the word "secur-
ity" is the act; the utterance is the primary reality. Second, the most radical
and transformational perspective - which nonetheless remained realist - was
one of minimizing "security" by narrowing the field to which the security act
was applied (as with the European ditente policies of the 1970s and 1980s).
After a certain point, the process took a different form and the aim became
to create a speech act failure (as in Eastern Europe in 1989). Thus, the trick
was and is to move from a positive to a negative meaning: Security is the con-
servative mechanism - but we want less security!
Under the circumstances then existing in Eastern Europe, the power
holders had among their instruments the speech act "security." The use of
this speech act had the effect of raising a specific challenge to a principled
level, thereby implying that all necessary means would be used to block that
challenge. And, because such a threat would be defined as existential and a
challenge to sovereignty, the state would not be limited in what it could or
might do. Under these circumstances, a problem would become a security
issue whenever so defined by the power holders. Unless or until this opera-
tion were to be brought to the point of failure - which nuclear conditions
made rather difficult to imagine2" - available avenues of change would take
the form of negotiated limitations on the use of the "speech act security."
Improved conditions would, consequently, hinge on a process implying "less
security, more politics!"
To put this point another way, security and insecurity do not constitute
a binary opposition. "Security" signifies a situation marked by the presence
of a security problem and some measure taken in response. Insecurity is a
situation with a security problem and n o response. Both conditions share
the security problematique. When there is no security problem, we do not
conceptualize our situation in terms of security; instead, security is simply
an irrelevant concern. The statement, then, that security is always relative,
and one never lives in complete security, has the additional meaning that, if
one has such complete security, one does not label it "security." It therefore
never appears. Consequently, transcending a security problem by politiciz-
ing it cannot happen through thematization in security terms, only away
from such terms.
An agenda of minimizing security in this sense cannot be based on a
classical critical approach to security, whereby the concept is critiqued and
then thrown away or redefined according to the wishes of the analyst. The
essential operation can only be touched by faithfully working with the clas-
sical meaning of the concept and what is already inherent in it. The lan-
guage game of security is, in other words, a jus necessitatis for threatened
elites, and this it must remain.
Such an affirmative reading, not at all aimed at rejecting the concept,
may be a more serious challenge to the established discourse than a critical
one, for it recognizes that a conservative approach to security is an intrinsic
element in the logic of both our national and international political organiz-
ing principles. By taking seriously this "unfounded" concept of security, it
+ , Securitization and Desecuritization 75

is possible to raise a new agenda of security and politics. This further implies
moving from a positive t o a negative agenda, in the sense that the dynamics
of securitization and desecuritization can never he captured so long as we
proceed along the normal critical track that assumes security to be a positive
value to be maximized.
That elites frequently present their interests in "national security" dress
is, of course, often p i n t 4 out hy observers, ~ ~ s ~ r iaccompanied
lly hy a
denial of elites' right to do so. Their actions are then labelled something else,
for example, "class interests," which seems to imply that authentic security is,
somehow, definable independent of elites, by direct reference to the "people."
This is, in a word, wrong. All such attempts to define people's "objective
interests" have failed. Security is articulated only from a specific place, in a n
institutional voice; by elites. All of this can be analyzed, if we simply give up
the assumption that security is, necessarily, a positive phenomenon.
Critics normally address the what or who that threatens, or the whom to
he secured; they never ask whether a phenomenon sholrld be treated in terms
of security because they do not look into "securityness" as such, asking what
is particular to security, in contrast to non-security, modes of dealing with
particular issues. By working with the assumption that security is a goal to
be maximized, critics eliminate other, potentially more useful ways of con-
ceptualizing the problems being addressed. This is, as I suggested above,
because security:insecurity are not binary opposites. As soon as a more nom-
inalist approach is adapted, the absurdity of working toward maximizing
"security" becomes clear.
Viewing the security debate at present, one often gets the impression of the
object playing around with the subjects, the field toying with the researchers.
The problematique itself locks people into talking in terms of "security," and
this reinforces the hold of security on our thinking, even if our approach is a
critical one. We do not find much work aimed at de-securitizing politics which,
1 suspect, would be more effective than securitizing problems.

Securitization a n d De-securitization: Four Cases

From the discussion above, it follows that a major focus of "security stud-
ies" should be the processes of securitization and de-securitization: When,
why and how elites label issues and developments as "security" problems;
when, why and how they succeed and fail in such endeavors; what attempts
are made by other groups to put securitization on the agenda; and whether
we can point to efforts to keep issues off the security agenda, or even to de-
securitize issues that have become securitized?
Below, I explore these questions in the context of four different security
agendas. First, I look at European security between 1960 and 1990, the
period of change and dPtente, which provided the framework for develop-
ing the speech act interpretation of security. During this period, the main
issue was whether political and social change could he de-securitized even
76 Widening Security

as the basic political structure of the region was kept frozen with major help
of the security instrument. How much could be de-securitized and how was
a major question, as is why and how change suddenly took on a new and
different character in 1989. In the second part, I deal with a very different
case: Environmental security. Here we see not an instance of de-securitizing
an essentially securitized field but, rather, the potential advantages and dis-
advantages of securitizing a new area that, perhaps, should be addressed via
other thematizations. In the third part, I take up the issue of societal secur-
ity. This topic is presented in a fashion somewhat parallel to the preceding
one, but I also ask the following: If we start using the concept of societal
security in order to understand certain new dynamics, especially in post-
Cold War Europe, what differences are there between a traditional, alter-
native security approach as opposed to a speech act approach to security?
In the final part, I analyze the major new attempts to apply the concept of
"security" in Europe, with particular reference to the notion of "European

Change a n d Detente: European Security 1960-1 990

A peculiar feature of the Cold War system in Europe was the almost total
exclusion of unwanted change, a guaranteed stability of the status quo.
Raymond Aron once described it as a "slowdown of history" (but then went
on to discuss the iron law of change that would ultimately upset this strange
~ i t u a t i o n )Security
.~~ became the means whereby this slowdown was effected.
The speech act "security" is, of course, more than just a word, since one must
have in hand the means to block a development deemed threatening. For
example, if a foreign army walks across the border or tries to intimidate a
country, it is necessary (but not sufficient) to have adequate military strength
to resist; or if social unrest, caused from within or without, is the problem,
one must have a sufficiently repressive apparatus, ideological cohesion in the
core group that allows the apparatus to be mobilized, and the legitimacy to
use it that avoids the escalation of public opposition.
For a long time the situation in Central and Eastern Europe was such
that, where nonmilitary issues were concerned, it was always possible for the
regime to control things - in extremis, with the help of friends with tanks.
In Cold War Europe, moreover, military threats could also be fenced off
because of the general nuclear condition. As the late Franz Josef Strauss once
put it: "In the present European situation there is no possibility of changes
through war, but neither through revolution or civil war."27 Change seemed
impossible without some consent by the power-holders; it had to take place
through a negotiated process of pressure and acceptance, stabilization and
destabilization. And so it happened.
The central issue of the debates on European dCtente - and the mech-
anism that actually worked in them - was the logic of change through sta-
bilization. In particular, as Willy Brandt explained, German Ostpolitik and
Deutschlandpolitik were very explicit about the necessity of "stabilizing the
\\ c.1 Securitization and Desecuritization 77

status quo in order to overcome the status quo." Only by removing some
threats to, and thereby some excuses for, the regimes in the East, would it
then become possible to push back the securitization of East-West relations
and change domestic conditions in Eastern Europe.
At the same time, the field of human rights evolved into an attempt to
develop new rules of the game in the nonmilitary arena. "Human rights"
became the label for a specific political strugglelnegotiation over the border
between security and politics, intervention and interaction. This theme gen-
erated a great deal of controversy in the mid-1 980s, especially where efforts
by West German Social Democrats (SPD) to revive detente were c ~ n c e r n e d . ' ~
Through all of this, East-West relations were marked by a basic asym-
metry, because internal legitimacy made Western society much more stable.
In Ruzan's terms, states in the West were strong, in the East, weak.lYThis
contrast generated a specific and clearly discernible constellation of secur-
ity concepts and practices: Since the West could not be destabilized from
within - especially as the decline of Eurocommunism eliminated this fear -
security concerns became focused on the "high politics" of military threats
and, possibly, skillful diplomatic maneuvering by the Soviets."' The states
of the East, in contrast, were fearful of "threats" from below; they regarded
almost all societal interaction with the West as potentially dangerous and
destabilizing. Accordingly, the concept of security became highly militarized
in the West, while in the East it was broadened to incorporate econon~ic
security and various types of interference in domestic affairs.
A key political question thus became the definition of "normal" trans-
national politics, as opposed to intervention, which was deemed to be a secur-
ity problem. A great deal of the East-West dialogue of the 1970s and 1980s,
especially that on "non-military aspects of security," human rights, and the
whole Third basket of the Helsinki Accords, could be regarded as a discussion
of where to place boundaries on a concept of security: To what degree were
Eastern regimes "permitted" to use extraordinary instruments to limit societal
East-West exchange and interaction?
By turning threats into challenges and security into politics, the ditente-
oriented actors of the West tried to get elites in the East to avoid applying
the term "security" to issues and to open LIP domestic space for more open
political struggle. Even though this strategy did not ultimately prove instru-
mental to the change in East-West relations in 1989, it is certainly arguable
that it did play an important role in a process of softening that allowed
another form of change to take place. Detente, as negotiated desecuritiza-
tion and limitation of the use of the security speech act, contributed to the
n~odificationof the Eastern societies and systems that eventually made pos-
sible, via sudden desecuritization through a speech-act failure, the radical
changes of 1989.
Many observers noted that the 1989 revolutions in Central and Eastern
Europc came about not as regimes slowly gave way to forces gaining more
and more control from the periphery but, rather, as a collapse from the cen-
ter. Some have tried to attribute this sudden loss of legitimacy to the dismal
78 Widening Security

economic performances of the 1980s. This was a necessary, but not suffi-
cient, condition for the collapse, inasmuch as the regimes had been lacking
in legitimacy for a very long time. The new feature in 1989 was the loss of
support within the elites, which some characterized as a sudden loss of self-
confidence by the regimes them~elves.~'In other words, to explain the
change, we must look within elites, and the ways in which the question of
legitimacy among elites translated into the capacity to act.32An important
part of an order-maintaining action occurs by sustaining a shared world-
view within some minimum inner-circle. In earlier cases of adjusting course,
when it was necessary to overcome a crisis or repress a revolt, the question
of worldview did not arise. The old leader was sacrificed and the new one
regained elite support by calling for the restoration of order. Something was
said in this act, of course, but the decisive question was not the truth of the
act, per se. Rather, the truth was given by the act being said from a specific
position, thereby regenerating a loyal elite following, (re)installingthe truth,
and reimposing the center's will on the majority.33 In this system of myth-
making, there was an almost infinite capacity for reappraisal through aux-
iliary hypotheses. That capacity was not, however, infinite and it ultimately
became more and more difficult to regenerate the truth, especially in the face
of continued economic failures.34 When the final crisis came, no one wanted
to take on the task of "calling to order" and no one wanted to take the place
at the center from which the call to order would come.
This inside-to-outside collapse can be seen as a speech act failure: The
performance of the security act and reinstallation of truth suddenly failed
to work. In retrospect, this should not have come as a surprise to the speech
act analyst of European security, although it did. As I noted in early 1989
(without drawing the logical conclusion):

In a way, the most interesting about a speech act is that it might fail. And
this is an essential part of its meaning. ... In our context this is clearly the
case: the invocation of "security" is only possible because it invokes the
image of what would happen if it did not work. And not only this (...):
the security speech act is only a problematic and thereby political move
because it has a price. The securitizer is raising the stakes and investing
some (real)risk of losing (general) sovereignty in order to fence of a spe-
cific challenge. In the present [post-structuralist] usage of speech act the-
ory the meaning of the particular speech act is thus equally constituted
by its possible success and its possible failure - one is not primary and
the other d e r i ~ e d . ~ "

As a result, the security mechanism, having lost its internal functioning,

suddenly disappeared from the European scene and, for a time, it became
extremely difficult to argue for any acts or policies in West or East by mak-
ing reference to either national or European "security."
Subsequently, it became possible to discern some options for establishing a
new European point of reference for security, especially around the process of
i ' ~1 , Securitization and Desecuritization 79

German u n ~ t ~ c a t ~ A
o ngeneral
. feel~ngof mutual fear of los~ngcontrol of the
process led to m u t u ~ lself-control, as each major actor t r ~ e dto take Into
account the concerns of the others. Each developed surpr~smglys ~ m d a r"blue-
pr~nts,"j h usmg the s t a b ~ l ~of
t y Europe as the pomt ot "self-emdent" reference,
and each of w h ~ c hdemanded 1' certam degree of self-control called "secur-
~ t ~ . The
" ' ~ core element of t h ~ sneed for self-control was the assumption (or
fear) that German unification, and reactions to it, might become explosive.
With unification, internationally sanctioned through the "2 plus 4" agree-
ment, in place, however, the urgency and focus of the situation was lost.
Subsequently, the general theme of European security analysis and policy
statements has focused on the unbearable openness of the situation. So
much of the unexpected had taken place that no possible developnlent
could now be excluded. Moorings had been lost. Metaphors of architecture
and insistent talk of institutions revealed a longing for fixity, for structures,
for predictability. In this situation it was believed, moreover, no institutions
should be terminated, even i f they seemed no longer necessary; indeed, there
emerged a widespread assumption that there existed a deficit of institutions
and structures, and too much instability and unpredictability. The implicit
agenda of "security" became, as a result, the closing off of options! I will
discuss further attempts to establish "security" in Europe, below.

In recent years, presentation of environmental degradation as a security

problem has become increasingly common. Environmental activists are not
the only ones to use this slogan; the security establishment seems to have
become more receptive to the idea, as well. But does it make sense? I would
argue "no," if we follow the logic laid out above.
During the 1980s, any idea about "nonmilitary aspects of security" was
guaranteed to generate establishment suspicions. The following sequence
of reasoning seemed, with some justification, threatening to security elites:
(1) security is a broad concept and, therefore, tnany things are threatening
in security terms; (2) in the light of a broader perspective, there exists a
biased distribution of resources toward military concerns; and (3) this bias
is relevant only for a limited portion of security threats as defined in this
broader sense.'Qcquiescing to such a broadening, and admitting the biased
allocation of resources, would quite obviously he seen by elites as a threat to
their prerogatives in the security realm.
Following the events of 1989, however, security establishments began to
embrace the idea of such alternatives as a means of maintaining their own
societal relevance, as well as providing jobs to "security studies" and "stra-
tegic studies" analysts. For example, in late 1989, a special issue of Stir-
vival, the journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which
has always been a good indicator of mainstream, Western security thinking, ad-
dressed "Nonmilitary Aspects of Strategy." Articles in the journal addressed
the panoply or possibilities of threats - economy, environment, migration, and
80 Widening Security

- in a search for new security problems to replace the old ones.

Notions about environmental security also emerged at the political level, as
when James Baker, Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, named
environmental problems as "threats to the security of our citizens,"40 and in
the Brundtland Commission's report, Our Common Future, which used
explicitly the concept of "environmental security."
Central to the arguments for the conceptual innovation of environmental
or ecological security41is its mobilization potential. As Buzan points out, the
concept of national security "has an enormous power as an instrument of
social and political mobilization" and, therefore, "the obvious reason for put-
ting environmental issues into the security agenda is the possible magnitude
of the threats posed, and the need to mobilize urgent and unprecedented
responses to them. The security label is a useful way both of signalling dan-
ger and setting priority, and for this reason alone it is likely to persist in the
environmental debates."42 Several analysts have, however, warned against
securitization of the environmental issue for some of these very reasons, and
some of the arguments I present here fit into the principled issue of securiti-
zatioddesecuritization as discussed earlier in this chapter. A first argument
against the environment as a security issue, mentioned, for example, by Buzan,
is that environmental threats are generally ~ n i n t e n t i o n a l .This,
~ ~ by itself,
does not make the threats any less serious, although it does take them out of
the realm of will. As I pointed out earlier, the field of security is constituted
around relationships between wills: It has been, conventionally, about the
efforts of one will to (allegedly) override the sovereignty of another, forcing
or tempting the latter not to assert its will in defense of its sovereignty. The
contest of concern, in other words, is among strategic actors imbued with
intentionality, and this has been the logic around which the whole issue of
security has been framed. In light of my earlier discussion, in which I stressed
that "security" is not a reflection of our everyday sense of the word but, rather,
a specific field with traditions, the jump to environmental security becomes
much larger than might appear at first to be the case. I do not present this as
an argument against the concept but, rather, as a way of illuminating or even
explaining the debate over it.
Second in his critique of the notion of environmental security, Richard
Moss points out that the concept of "security" tends to imply that defense
from the problem is to be provided by the state:

The most serious consequence of thinking of global change and other

environmental problems as threats to security is that the sorts of central-
ized governmental responses by powerful and autonomous state organi-
zations that are appropriate for security threats are inappropriate for
addressing most environmental problems. When one is reacting to the
threat of organized external violence, military and intelligence institutions
are empowered to take the measures required to repel the threat. By this
same logic, when responding to environmental threats, response by cen-
tralized regulatory agencies would seem to be logical. Unfortunately, in
most cases this sort of response is not the most efficient or effective way
,tLer Securitization and Desecuritization 81

of addressing environmental problems, particularly those that have a global


Moss goes on to warn that "the instinct for centralized state responses to
security threats is highly inappropriate for responding effectively to global
environmental p r o b l e r n ~ . " ~It' might, he points out, even lead to militariza-
tion of environmental problems.""
A third warning, not unrelated to the previous two, is the tendency for the
concept of security to produce thinking in terms of us-them, which could then
be captured by the logic of nationalism. Dan Deudney writes that "the 'nation'
is not an empty vessel or blank slate waiting to be filled or scripted, but is
instead profoundly linked to war and 'us us. them' thinking (...) Of course,
taking the war and 'us 11s. them' thinking out of nationalism is a noble goal.
But this may he like taking sex out of 'rock and roll,' a project whose feasi-
bility declines when one remembers that 'rock and roll' was originally coined
as a euphemism tor sex."47 The tendency toward "us us. them" thinking, and
the general tradition of viewing threats as coming from outside a state's own
borders, are, in this instance, also likely to direct attention away from one's
own contributions to enviro~mental problem^."^
Finally, there is the more political warning that the concept of security
is basically defensive in nature, 3 status quo concept defending that which
is, even though it does not necessarily deserve to be protected. In a para-
doxical way, this politically conservative bias has also led to warnings by
some that the concept of environmental security could become a dangerous
tool of the "totalitarian left," which might attempt to relaunch itself on the
basis of environmental collectivism.4'Tertainly, there is some risk that the
logic of ecology, with its religious potentials and references to holistic cat-
egories, survival and the linked significance of everything, might easily lend
itself to totalitarian projects, where also the sciencc of ecology has focused
largely on how to constrain, limit, and control activities in the name o f the
environment. "'
These observations point back toward a more g n e r a l question: Is it a
good idea to frame as many problems as possible in terms of security? Does
not such a strategy present the negative prospect of, in a metaphorical sense,
militarizing our thinking and seeing problems in terms of threat-vulnerability-
defense, when there are good reasons for not treating them according to this
formula?'' Use of the slogan "environmental sec~irity"is tempting, because it
is an effective way of dramatizi~lgenvironmental problems. In the longer run,
however, the practices resulting from the slogan might lead to an inappro-
priate social construction of the environment, as a threaddefense problem.
We might find it more constructive, instead, to thematize the problem in terms
of an economy-ecology nexus, where decisions are actually interlinked."
Use of the security label does not merely reflect whether a problem is a
security problem, it is also a political choice, that is, a decision for concep-
tualization in a special way. When a problem is "securitized," the act tends
to lead to specific ways of addressing it: Threat, defense, and often state-
centered solutions. This, of course, leaves the environmental agenda, with its
82 Widening Security

labelling problem, unresolved. One alternative is to view the emerging values

of environmentalism as establishing their own moral basis. As his basis for
optimism, for example, Buzan suggests that such values are already emerging
as new norms of international society.53Deudney, more lyrically, talks about
ecological awareness being linked to "a powerful set of values and symbols"
that "draw upon basic human desires and aspirations," and argues that this,
and not regressive security logic, should be the basis for m o b i l & ~ t i o n . ~ ~
Buzan, Moss and others who have analyzed the concept "environmental
security," and its use, recommend that environmental problems be treated as
part of the economic field. "The security label is one solution," according to
Buzan, but he tends to prefer the other path: To "identify environmental
issues as part of the economic agenda," which has

the advantage of setting the issue at the heart of the action that is most
relevant to it. There might, in the long run, be more advantage to mak-
ing producers, consumers, taxmen and economists factor environmental
costs into their accounting activities, than to arming the state with emer-
gency powers derived from an analogy with war. It might be argued that
process-type threats are better met by the process-type remedies of eco-
nomics, than by the statist solutions of security

Societal Security

Over the last few years, an interest in the concept of "societal security" has
developed, especially in Europe. If the societal sector is securitized in an
unsophisticated way, however, the result could be used to legitimize reac-
tionary arguments for, on the one hand, defining immigrants and refugees
as security problems and, on the other, presenting European integration as
a national security threat. Conversely, "societal security" could end as an
absurd attempt to tell people who feel insecure that they really should not.
More systematically, what does the term "societal security" suggest in light
of the three perspectives I have so far discussed: Traditional state centric,
critical wider security concepts, and the speech act approach? First, in the trad-
itional state-centric perspective, "societal security" could come to mean mak-
ing the state secure against society, against the types of situations in which a
state might be destabilized as its society disintegrates or turns against it. For a
society that lacks a state, or is a minority within a state, moreover, its strength-
ening could be seen by the state as such a security problem.
Second, the conventional-critical approach of broadening the concept
of security is likely to become locked into debate about whether, for example,
immigrants and refugees really do pose a security problem to the state. A
discourse on societal security might then be captured by neo-nazis who argue
"we are only defending our societal security," or end up as a pedagogical
project trying to convince people that, although they feel threatened, there
really is no security problem.
I Securitization and Desecuritization 83

Finally, the approach I have proposed above points toward a study of the
mechanisms leading to securitization of certain issues related to identity, espe-
cially when and how these problems are handled, by society, in security terms.
Such an approach implies that we have t o take seriously concerns about iden-
tity, but have also to study the specific and often problematic effects of their
being framed as security issues. We also have to look at the possibilities of
handling some of these problems in nonsecurity terms, that is, to takc o n the
problems, but leave them unsecuritized. This latter approach recognizes that
social processes are already under way whereby societies have begun to the-
matize thenzselues as security agents that are under threat. This process
of social construction can be studied, and the security quality of the phenom-
enon understood, without thereby actually legitimizing it. With the "as much
security as possible" approach, this is hard to handle: one will have either to
denounce such issues as not being security phenomena ("misperceptions"), or
one will be pulled into the process as co-securitizer.
What, then, can a tcrm such as "societal security" mean? The security of
societies is closely related to, but nonetheless distinct from, political security.
Political security has to do with the organizational stability of states, systems
of government, and the ideologies that give governments and states their
legitimacy. In today's world, the boundaries of state and society are rarely
coterminous. The key to society, therefore, involves those ideas and practices
that identify individuals as members of a social group. Society is about iden-
tity, the self-conception o f communities, and those individuals w h o identify
themselves as members of a particular community. "Society" should basically
be conceived of as both Genzeinschaft and Gesellschaft, but thereby, t o some
degree, necessarily more than the sum of the parts (that is, not reducible to
individuals).'" O u r analysis of societal security thus builds on a Durkheirnian
conception of society as a distinctive, sui generis phenomenon."
It has become fairly common t o talk about various sectors (or the like)
within the field of security, hut the concept almost always poses the state as
the referent object. This, I have suggested ahove, leads to "societal security"
being understood as the security of a state uis-h-zlis its constituent societies,
which is not what we want. M y colleagues and 1 have therefore suggested a
reconceptualizatioll of the security field in terms of a duality of state security
and societal security. State security has souereignty as its ultimate criterion,
and societal security has identity. Both usages imply survival. A state that
loses its sovereignty does not survive as a state; a society that loses its iden-
tity fears that it will n o longer be able to live as itselfiiThere are, then, at the
collective level between individual and totality, two organizing centers for the
concept of security: state and society. At a secondary level, in the way por-
trayed in figure 1, there are also the "individual" and "international" levels,
which influence national, o r state, and societal security, as well (see figure 2).
The deeper cause of this emerging duality may well be a tendency toward
the dissolution of the modern state system, as political authority is dispersed
across multiple levels. This process begins to undermine the exclusive, sover-
eign, territorial state, as overlapping authorities begin to emerge." In Europe,
84 Widening Security

Figure 2: Modified Hourglass Model.

International dynamics\

Collective unit level

~ l c e p


l y /



Individual level dynamics

society state

in particular, the coupling between state-nation is being weakened even in the

absence of a new synthesis at the European level. No sovereign Euro-state will
emerge any time soon but, at the same time, sovereign member states are
beginning to lose some of their harder edges. This does not mean that nations
will disappear, or even be weakened. The territorial state, however, with its
principle of sovereignty, is being weakened. Left behind, we find nations with
less state, cultures with less shell.
This development illuminates the increasing salience of "societal (in)secur-
ity," that is, situations in which significant groups within a society feel threat-
ened, feel their identity is endangered by immigration, integration, or cultural
imperialism, and try to defend themselves. In the past, when a nation/ culture
felt itself threatened in these ways, it could call on "its" state to respond
accordingly. This no longer seems possible, especially as border controls and
various forms of economic policy move upward to the EU-European level. If
such a development comes to be generally accepted, how are cultures to
defend themselves? I would suggest that this will be done with culture. If one's
identity seems threatened by internationalization or Europeanization, the
answer is a strengthening of existing identities. In this sense, consequently,
culture becomes security policy.
The case of Denmark is illuminating. During the past few years, viewers in
Denmark have been treated to numerous television programs and seminars on
"Danishness." These programs are not necessarily linked to an anti-European
agenda or to the re-creation of a tight state-nation correspondence; rather, they
represent a correlate of acceptance of integration into the European Union.
It is the future and form of a Danish "non-state" nation within the EU that is
at issue in the Danish EU-debate, and it has been the cultural community that
has taken the first approach to these new themes, almost explicitly in terms of
"cultural" security policy.
\\ ,r,\ cr Securitization and Desecuritization 85

Several important questions regarding future developments in Europe

follow from this example: First, will national identifications generally wane?
Second, if they d o not, in which of two possible directions will developments
in cultural identity move? It is, on the one hand, possible that national iden-
tities might be revived in terms of non-state, cultural self-defense. This would
help to support Europeanization of political structures, through the evolu-
tion of a European polrtical identity, while leaving cultural identity a t the
national level (Kultuunation without Staatnation) O n the other hand, it is
also possible that cultural identity could be revived in the form of classical
nation-state thinking, with classical concerns for state sovereignty, national
autonomy, and self-expression at the cultural and political levels. Either might
happen, although the former is the novel, challenging pattern.
With the process of European integration and the "culturalization" of
nations proceeding, we can definitely see the emergence of societal security
as something apart from state security. The state defends itself against
threats t o sovereignty and society defends itself against threats t o identity.
This dualism is not symmetrical. Society could, under some circumstances,
choose to call upon the state for defense and collapse itself back into the old
constellation. The integration scenario relates t o a perspective whereby
state security and societal security are increasingly differentiated as separate
fields, each having a distinct referent object. If societies continue t o take
care of their security in their vwn way, this process of differentiation could
continue. If, however, security concerns 011 the societal side escalate to the
point of calling the state back in, we could see a retreat away from integra-
tion and back toward a Europe of distinct nation-states. So far, we have not
elevated state and society t o equal status but, rather, to separate status as
referent objects of security. The long term importance of societal security in
Europe is contingent o n continuation o t the process of integration, but the
success of integration is also dependent on the separate security strategies
of societies as distinct from those of the states.""
This brief summary shows how the concept of societal security could be
used t o capture the essential dynamics of European security. The concept is
not, however, unproblematic. Analytically, as well a s politically, it raises
several thorny questions. One is that of voice: H o w does a society speak?
Society is different from the state in that it does not have institutions of for-
mal representation. Anyone can speak on behalf o f society and claim that a
security problem has appeared. Under what circumstances should such
claims be taken serious1y ?
In thinking about this question, it is important to avoid notions of a n
undifferentiated society. In practical terms, it is not a society itself that
speaks but, rather, institutions or actors in society. Normally and traditionally,
according t o liberal contract ideology, it is the state that has spoken about
security in the name of a presumed homogeneous, amorphous society that it
allegedly represents, with what is assumed to be a clear focus and voice. The
notion of "societal security" might strongly imply that this homogeneous,
amorphous society now speaks on its own behalf. But societies are, of
course, highly differentiated, full of hierarchies and institutions, with some
86 Widening Security

better placed than others to speak on behalf of "their" societies. But "societyn
never speaks, it is only there to be spoken for.
While such representations are made all the time - indeed, a large part of
politics is about speaking in the name of society61 - there is a difference
between normal politics and speaking "security" in the name of society. We
cannot predict who will voice "societal security" concerns; we can only see,
with hindsight, how much legitimacy an actor did possess when slhe tried to
speak on behalf of society. Various actors try this all the time, but the
attempt becomes consequential on a different scale when society more or less
actively backs up the groups speaking. This has sometimes been the case
with neo-nazis in Germany, in contrast to ultra-leftist terrorist acts commit-
ted in the name of the people but without much, if any, public support.
Most often, there are no generally legitimized, uncontested representatives
of society: There is the state or there is nothing.62 This does not, of course, pre-
vent groups from speaking on behalf of society and gaining some degree of
backing for some period of time. Only in rare situations, as during the "Velvet
Revolution" in Czechoslovakia, do we see moments - almost seconds - of a
kind of self-evident representation of "society" by some nonelected but gen-
erally accepted institution such as Civic Forum. It is much more common for
a societal "voice" to be controversial and only partly accepted. Normally, the
state has preempted or prevented societal actors from taking on this func-
t i ~ n but
, ~ this
~ is no longer necessarily the case, especially in the complex con-
stellations evolving in Western Europe. There, we could begin to see a growing
division of labor between state and, society, as societal voices establish them-
selves as defenders of certain proclaimed identities, while the state continues
to pursue the separate agenda of defending its sovereignty.
It is easy to envision potentially troubling effects if certain societal
issues, such as migration, are securitized. Elizabeth Ferris illustrates how
this has already happened in Europe, with the result that the previously
dominant framings of immigration as a humanitarian or domestic economic
issue are being crowded out by notions of security threats.64 Dan Smith sug-
gests that "if security policy is justified on essentially racist grounds, that
will feed back to strengthen racist currents in society."65
Where Europeanization is concerned - if one favors European integra-
tion - it may be more advantageous to have such issues securitized in terms of
societal security rather than state security. If, on the one hand, the "threat"
from a new overarching identity is countered through a strengthening of state
control over borders, the result will be to block integration and accelerate a
renationalization of policies. If, on the other hand, the challenge is taken on
by society as something it should deal with as the state is partly lifted to the
European level, a process of cultural "rearmament" of the nation may be com-
patible with political integration into Europe.

European Security a f t e r t h e Cold War

As suggested above in my discussion of European security during the Cold

War, we could distinguish some tendencies toward installing new political
+ 1 Securitization a n d Desecuritization 87

limits by reference to European stability during 1989 and 1990 (especially

in relation to the "German problem"). At that time, the risk was that the
whole system might have become limitless, with the process falling to the hard
realities of either external, superpower limits or the limits of national differ-
entiation within Europe. The definition of European security would then have
drifted until one of the major powers felt that overall developments had
become intolerable. At that time, however, European thinking about security
existed only in terms of positizw programs, of increasing security for Europe.
The result was various competing projects for Europe, each with a partic~llar
content that negated the other." A purely negative limitation "for the sake of
Europe" would not be more objective, but it would contain the possibility of
being generalized. Without a new point of self-evidence, of a non-arguable
reference point, it was feared by some that the system could end up testing the
hard limits.
For more than forty years, "security" was the means for enforcing cohesion
within the two halves of Europe. In the Western half, it defined the limits of
loyalty/seriousness in relation to NATO, thereby regulating the state-to-state
arrangement of the West. In the Eastern part, security was used to control
domestic developments. After 1989, both of these fr~nctionswere weakened,
primarily and first in the East. "Security" then became the name for a possible
handling of Europe, although, even today, this limit-defining function has not
yet found a stable form. A good part of European politics since 1989 can thus
be interpreted as attempts by "Europeans" to install a mechanism for discip-
lining each other and themselves, thereby reducing options.
The word-pair European security is an old one, but this should not lead
us to overlook the important change in its meaning that took place during
the 1980s. In 1987, Egbert Jahn pointed O L I ~that the term could have two
very different meanings: regional international security or Euronational
Prior to that time, the term "European security" had, more often
than not, meant something closer to the former, because in no meaningful
way could one refer to the security of Europe except in the sense of the region
being secure because a high proportion of its constituent security actors felt
secure. Gradually during the 1980s, and in a much accelerated fashion after
1989, Europe as a whole became a referent object of security, and the second
use of the term began to acquire greater salience. In some ways, the growing
acceptance of this usage is paradoxical. With a referent object that is hardly
constituted in political terms, and certainly not in institutional ones (except
for largely administrative purposes), what can security discourse address?
What is it that threatens Europe?
Balkanization is one possibility. James Der Derian has pointed out that the
concept of Kalkanization is a central one vis-a-vis Europe, and yet it is aca-
demically ignored: "Balkanization is generally understood to be the break-up
of larger political units into smaller, mutually hostile states which are ex-
ploited or manipulated by more powerful n e i g h b o ~ i r s . "Der
~ ~ Derian points
out that, in the interwar years, competing users of the Balkanization slogan
"shared epistemologies based on a closed structure of binary oppositions: for
the Marxists, balkanization or federation, barbarism or socialism, nationalism
88 Widening Security

or internationalism; for the Wilsonians, balkanization or confederation, des-

potism or liberal constitutionalism, nationalism or cosm~politanism."~~
Balkanization is a tool for legitimizing an international order without a
named enemy. A politicaVmilitary order generally legitimizes itself through
reference to an external threat (a method developed to perfection in the
symmetry of the cold war). When order is not organized against a specific
country, it must be based on a legitimizing principle that will help to define
which specific developments are to be opposed (as was the case with the
Concert of Europe, which stood against revolution and change in the status
quo, and which calls to mind former President Bush's famous phrase about
NATO being an alliance not against any particular country, but against the
threat of uncertainty and instability). Using a metaphor of chaos and disin-
tegration is a way of establishing order as such as an aim. Since 1990, the
oft-used metaphor has been reinforced by events in the Balkans although,
more recently, the use of the metaphor has diminished, as developments in
post-Yugoslavia turned metaphor into painful reality.
Beneath the seeming agreement on the new dominant discourse, we
actually find t w o major discourses about European security. First, there is
the Bush argument that the new enemy is uncertainty, unpredictabilit~,and
instability. The chains of equivalence suggested here are:

Balkanization v v s - stability

change v-s- continuity

E UIFranco-German vvs ----+ NATO.
defense cooperation

Given these equations, the fear of Balkanization becomes an argument

against any change whatsoever: stick with NATO and don't rock the boat,
so to speak. Attempts to organize defense cooperation in Western Europe
are seen as upsetting the status quo, leaning toward the side of war and
destabilization. In EU-discourse, the logic is:

fragmentation a v s - integration


v-s- stability
vs ----+ E U responsibility
for security.

As indicated in the definition of Balkanization above, one traditional mean-

ing implied that a region would be opened up to external influence; more
important, however, is not just the focus on instability and change, but on
fragmentation. This possibility, then, points to integration and centraliza-
tion as the remedy.
l\ ,r\ ei Securitization and Desecuritization 89

Generally speaking, in EU-logic, the concept of integration is the master

variable. Integration is itself considered a value,70 and each specific option
must demonstrate whether it will increase or decrease integration. More
specifically, we can see in the literature on European security a symptomatic
attempt to use neorealism (and/or American realist-federalizing logic of the
Federalist Papers) to argue for the stark choice between "fragmentation"
and "integratio~l."" This strategy might be seen as the new disciplining
move: "Europeans! You really have only two options - do not try to choose
any other, they will he inzpossihle. Do you want fragmentation or integra-
tion, Balkanizationlrc-natiotzalization or European Union?"
Integration is, thus, increasingly driven by the specter of fragmentation'"
and, because the alternative is seen as inherently unacceptable, it becomes an
aim in itself. Immediately following German unification, French President
Mitterrand hegan to argue: We have to insist on the Europe of integration in
order to avoid "the Europe of War."'l "Security" thus became shorthand for
the argument: We have to d o everything to ensure that integration, and not
fragmentation, is the outcome.
There is another interesting usage of security logic in the struggle over
Europeanization. In several countries, the wider concept of security is being
applied to the issue of tnigration as a strong pro-integration argument.
While giving the Alastair Buchan Memorial Lecture in 1991, Jacques Delors
employed security as "an all embracing concept," and explicitly argued for
further integration on this basis:

One thing leads to another. This has been a feature of the Community,
which is constantly being taken into new areas. One of these new areas
is closely linked to the overall concept of security. I am referring, of
course, to the consequences of free movement for individuals and the
need for joint action, or at the very least close co-ordination, to c o n h a t
the various threats to personal security: organized crime, drug trafficking,
terrorism. ... Political initiatives in this security-related area are another
expression of solidarit).: a leitmotif o f the European pact.'"

Here the broad, "progress~ve" concept of securlty 1s being explo~tedIn

order to b u ~ l dup the EU. W ~ t hthe fragmenting tendencies in Europe appar-
ent since 1991 - war in the Balkans; the r a t ~ f ~ c a t ~crisis o n over Maastricht;
monetary turbulence - more class~calsecurity concerns have returned to
dominate. The specter of new-old power rivalries hecommg the future for the
new-old contment is probably a mam reason for security discourse increas-
ingly concentrating on the ~ n t e g r a t ~ o n / f r a g m e n t a t ~theme.
Thus we see an ernerglng shared sense of what the agenda 15 about:
Ralkanizat~on.If the code becomes strong enough, "securlty" ~ 1 1 1 once , ,xg,lin,
become a useful tool. Across the Atlantic, there are also two coinpetlng ver-
sions, but enough should be shared across the ocean to make ~t a polrt~cally
empowered concept.-' With the articulation of securltv as "European \ecurltyv
then, we get ,I general strengthening of the Image of d ~ s ~ n t e g r a t ~aso nsuch as
the threx.
90 Widening Security

In the European verslon of orderlsecur~ty,there 1s a statebudd~nglogrc

a t play. Secur~ty1s Invoked In a sense that can be mterpreted as a call t o
defend a not-yet-exlstlng s o c ~ aorder.
l H o b b e s ~ a nanti-anarchy l o g ~ cIS bemg
used at a level between the domest~cand the ~ n t e r n a t ~ o n a"Secur~ty
l. the
speech act" IS, a t present, lna~nlya tool for "Europe." The separate unrts
p r ~ m a r ~ engage
ly In so~zetalsecurzty. All of t h ~ could
s be seen as an ~ n d ~ c a -
tlon that, at a deeper levcl, the Euro state has arr~veci:It uses state s e c u r ~ t y
l o g ~ ceven as ~ t constituent
s countries have begun to act as almost-stateless
natlons usmg the l o g ~ co t soc~ctalsecurity.

Security, Politics and Stability: Or Why We Might Want

"Security" After All

I have focused here on the issues of securitization and de-securitization, trying

to demonstrate the importance of moving a theme or issue into the field of
security, and thereby framing it as a "security issue." Throughout this essay
I have tried to show the advantage of a nominalist, process perspective on the
question, where the focus is on the constitution of security phenomena. This,
I argue, avoids turning security into a thing.
The point of my argument, however, is not that t o speak "security"
means simply to talk in a higher-pitched voice. It is slightly more complex than
that: "security" is a specific move that entails consequences which involve
risking oneself and offering a specific issue as a test case. Doing this may
have a price and, in that sense, it could be regarded as a way to "raise the
bet."ih The concrete issue is made principled, thereby risking principles (and
order), but potentially controlling the concrete. The game has a whole inner
logic to it and, when approaching it from some specific field, one should remain
aware of the effects of having an issue codified in the language of security.
In the current European situation, security has, in some sense, become
the name of the management problem, of governance in an extremely
unstructured universe. We d o not yet know the units - they have yet to
be constructed through the discourse on security; we d o not know the issues,
and the threats - they are to be defined in the discourse on security; we only
know the form: security. It might sound strange t o say that we do not yet
know the issues and threats when war has taken on still more br~italforms
in Yugoslavia, with the possibility of European and American intervention
having been raised now and again, when migration is discussed as a threat
throughout Europe, and when German neo-nazis have attacked asylum
seekers on this basis. To be sure, we may be aware of some of the events
and processes that are likely to be part of the new security universe, but
these are not yet fully conceptualized, and we d o not know in what form
they are going to enter this new security "system."
The point I wish t o make here is that there is a widely shared, in~plicit
assumption that limits and stability must be produced t o a t least some min-
imum degree. Some point has to become the political equivalent of the
' ,: r r Securitization a n d Desecuritization 91

transcendental signifii - a point which is its own referent, endowed with the
instruments (security) for reproducing itself. The way in which the mecha-
nism of security is then inscribed in the new Europe will be a major factor
in forming Europe's political system(s).
From a more Nietzschean perspective, I should also mention that politics
always involves an element of exclusion, in which one has to do violence to the
i n h e r e n t o p e n n e s s of s i t u a t i o n s , to impose a p a t t e r n - a n d o n c has not only
to remember but also to forget selectively." To act politically means to take
responsibility for leaving a n impact, for forcing things in one direction instead
of another. Whether such an act is "good" or "bad" is not defined by any inner
qualities of the act or its premises, but by its effects (which depend on the
actions of others, interaction and, therefore, an element of coincidence). As
Hannah Arendt pointed out, "Action reveals itself fully only to the storyteller,
that is, to the backward glance of the hi~torian."'~Acting politically can, con-
sequently, never be risk-free, and "progressiveness" is never guaranteed by
one's political or philosophical attitude. Theoretical practices, as well as any
political ones, have to risk their own respectability and leave traces, letting pos-
terity tell the story about the meaning of an act. Post-structuralists have usually
been arguing that their project is about opening up, implicitly arguing that a
situation was too closed, too self-reproducing. Politics is inherently about clos-
ing off options, about forcing the stream of history in particular directions.'"
In the present context, politics and responsibility can involve preven-
tion and limitation and, at times, the tool o f securitization may seem neces-
sary.It is thus not impossible that a post-structuralist concerned about risks
of power rivalry and wars will end up supporting a (re)securitization of
"Europe" through rhetorics such as that of integratiodfragmentation. The
purpose of this would be to impose limits, but it would have as a side-effect
some elements o f state-building linked to the EU project. This could there-
fore imply that national co~nrnunitiesmight have to engage in a certain
degree of securitization of identity questions in order to handle the stress
from Europeanization. Under such circumstances, there might emerge a com-
plementarity between nations engaging in societal security and the new
quasi-state engaging in "F,uropean security." Neither of these two moves are
reflections of some objective "security" that is threatened; they are, instead,
possible speech acts, moving issues into a security frame so as to achieve effects
different from those that would ensue if handled in a nonsecurity mode.


I . Ole Wzver "Security the Speech Act: Analysing the Politics of a Word," Copenhagen:
Centre tor Peace and Confl~ctResearch, Working Paper no. 1989119. Part of the sections e n d e d
Security: "The Concept and thr Word" and "From 'Alternat~veSecurity' to 'Secur~ty,the Speech
Act"' as well .IS the subsection "Change and Detente: European Security 1960-1990" under
" S e c ~ ~ r i t i r a t ~a on dn De-secur~tlzation:Four Cases" are adapted (sometimes abbreviated, some-
times elaborated) from this working paper; the latter suhsect~on,as well as the final one,
"F.uropean Security After th? Cold War." rnclude ideas previously presented in the paper "The
changing character of continuity: European Security Systems 1949, '69, '89, ... ," presented in
92 Widening Security

the panel on 'European Change Revisited' at the annual conference of British International
Studies Association, Canterbury, December 1989 and reprinted as Working Paper, 211990; the
subsection "Societal Security" draws on my contributions to Ole Wzver, Barry Buzan, and
Morton Kelstrup, Pierre Lemaitre, Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe
(London: Pinter, 1993).
2. On the deconstructive strategy of such "post-structuralist realism," see Ole Waever,
"Tradition and Transgression: a post-Ashleyan position," in Nick Rengger and Mark Hoffman,
eds., Beyond the Interparadigm Debate (Brighton, U.K.: HarvesterlWheatsheaf, forthcoming);
Ole Waever, "Beyond the 'beyond' of critical international theory," paper for the (B)ISA con-
ference, London March-April 1989 (Centre for Peace and Conflict Research, Copenhagen,
Working Paper 198911.)
3. See, e.g., Jan Oberg, At Sikre Udvikling og Udvikle Sikkerhed (Copenhagen: Vindrose,
1983); Egbert Jahn, Pierre Lemaitre and Ole Waever, European Security: Problems of Research
on Non-Military Aspects (Copenhagen: Copenhagen Papers of the Centre for Peace and
Conflict Research, 1987); Barry Buzan People, States and Fear: An Agenda for Security Studies
in the Post-Cold War Era (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1991,2nd ed.); Ole Waever, Pierre Lemaitre
& Elzbieta Tromer, eds., European polyphony: Perspectives Beyond East- West Confrontation
(London: Macm~llan,1989).
4. Oberg, At Sikre Udvikling; see also Johan Galtung, "The Changing Interface Between
Peace and Development in a Changing World," Bulletin of Peace Proposals #2 (1980):14549;
Johan Galtung, "Twenty-Five Years of Peace Research: Ten Challenges and Some Responses,"
Journal of Peace Research 22, #2 (1985):141-58, see especially pp. 146f.
5. This discourse will probably only have a political role if it appears as part of a social
movement (such as a peace movement) that presents the establishment with a wall of mean-
ingless practice, i.e. if it appears as part of an external, upsetting activity which is shocking
precisely because it is incomprehensible. For a more detailed discussion of this point, see Ole
Waever "Moment of the Move: Politico-Linguistic Strategies of Western Peace Movements,"
paper presented at the twelfth annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political
Psychology, Tel Aviv, June 18-22 (Centre for Peace and Conflict Research, Working Paper no.
1989113); and Ole Wzver "Politics of Movement: A Contribution to Political Theory in and
on Peace Movements," in: K. Kodama and U. Vesa, eds., Towards a Comparative Analysis of
Peacemovements (Aldershot, U.K.: Dartmouth 1990), pp. 1 5 4 4 .
6. Oberg, At Sikre Udvikling; Richard H. Ullman, "Redefining Security," International Secur-
ity 8, no. 1 (Summer 1983): 129-53; JessicaTuchman Mathews, "Redefining Security," Forergn
Affairs 68, no. 2 (Spring 1989): 162-77.
7. See Jahn, et al., European Security, pp. 51-53.
8. Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power
politics," lnternational Organization 46, no. 2 (Spring 1992): 391426; C. A. W. Manning, The
Nature of lnternational Society (London: London School of Economics, 1962); Martin Wight,
Systems of States (Leicester:Leicester University Press,1977); Ole Wzver, "International Society:
The Grammar of Dialogue among States?,"paper presented at ECPR workshop in Limerich,
April 1992; Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory
and International Relations (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989).
9. "Most seriously, however, even if we admit that we are all now participating in common
global structures, that we are all rendered increasingly vulnerable to processes that are planetary
in scale, and that our most parochial activities are shaped by forces that encompass the world and
not just particular states, it is far from clear what such an admission implies for the way we organ-
ize ourselves politically. The state is a political category in a way that the world, or the globe, or
the planet, or humanity is not. The security of states is something we can comprehend in political
terms in a way that, at the moment, world security can not be understood." R.B.J. Walker,
"Security, Sovereignty, and the Challenge of World Politics," Alternatives 15, no. 1 (1990): 5.
There is nothing inevitable about this way of defining security - it has emerged historically, and
might change gradually again - but one has to admit "the extent to which the meaning of secu-
rity is tied to historically specific forms of political community" (Walker, "Security, Sovereignty").
Only to the extent that other forms of political community begin to become thinkable (again),
does it make sense to think about security at other levels. The main process at the present is a very
\\ ~ x v
t a i Securitization and Desecuritization 93

open a n d contradictory articulation of the relationship between state (and other pol~ticalstruc-
tures) a n d nation (and other large scale cultural communities). Therefore, the main d y n a m ~ cof
security will play a t the intertace of srate security and societal security (in the sense of the securlty
of large-scale we-identities). Thus, in the section o n "Soc~etalSecurity," I will argue why the study
of "societal security" should - although heing aware of specitic threats t o soclal groups - con-
struct the concept of soc~etalsecurity as distinct from t h ~ s as , heing a t a speclfic level of collectiv-
ity, heing a social fact.
10. But even here o n e c ~ argue n a h o u t t h e way of defining these standard cases as m i l i t ~ r y
o r political; Jahn, et a/., Euro/,ean Security, pp. 17-20.
I I. Barry Buznn argues more extensively a s follows: "Bewuse the use of force can wreak
major undes~redchanges very swiftly, rn~litarythreats are tradltlonally accorded the h ~ g h e s rpri-
ority In national securit) concerns. Military action can wreck the w o r k of centuries in all other
sectors. D~fficultxcomplislinients in politics, art, ~ndustr);culture a n d a11 human activities can
he undone by the use of force. H u m a n nchievements, In other words, can be threatened in terms
other than those in which they were created, and the need t o prevent such threats fro111 being
realized is a major underpinning ot the state's m ~ l ~ t a rprotection y f u n c t ~ o n .A defeated soclety
is totally vulnel-ahle t o the conqueror's power w h ~ c hcan he applied t o ends ranging from
r e s t r u c t ~ ~ r ~the
n g government, through pillage and rape, t o rn,l\sacre of the p o p u l a t ~ o nand
resettlement o f the I m d . The thre,lt of force t h ~ st~niulates~s .
n o t onl\, a oowerful concern t o nro-
tecr the socio-poht~calherit'lge of the stdte, hut also a sense o f outrage a t the use of u n f a ~ rforms
of competition.'' IJcoplc, St'ztes and keilr, p. 1 17.
12. J a h n , et ' I / . ,Europcizn Scmrrt): p. 9.
13. Arnold \Volfers, Drsi-ord m d Coll~7bori7tion:Essays or1 Inir~rnationalPolitics (Balti~nore:
T h e J o h n s Hopkin\ University Press, 19621, p. 150.
14. Raymond Aroti, I'rmc irnd W7r: A T l ~ f Y ) pof Into-nizttonal Politics ( N e w York:
I)ouhleda!; I 9 6 6 ) , pp. 72f a n d SYXf.
15. This is the reason why small states w ~ l loften hc cnretul not t o d e s ~ g n a t e"inconven-
iences" a s securlry problem\ o r ~ n f r ~ n g c r n e not sn wvereignty - it they are, in any event, u ~ i a b l e
t o d o anything a h o u t it. O n e exnmple w a s Finland In r e l a t ~ o nt o the Soviet Union.
16. Jean-Jacques R o u w a u , " O n Social Contract o r Principles of Political Right" 117621,
(translated hy Julia (:ono~v,iy Bondanella) pp. 84-174 in: Alctn Ritter a n d J u l i a Conoway
Bondanella. eds., Rousse~ru'sPolrtrcal \YJriturgs ( N e w York: W.W. Norton, 19881, p. 90.
17. T h ~ essenri,ll
s argumellt - the repetition of war In nonmilitary form - is the b n s ~ cdiffer-
ence hetween mine and the one made b y some ,idvocates of "non-offensive defense," most
notably Anders lioserup a n d Poul Holm Andreasen (trom w h o m I have learned this Interpret-
ation of Clausewiti). T h e ulr~matetest can arlse in another sphere today, and the whole game
therefore conrlnuej. Anders Boserup deduced from the nuclear c o n d i t ~ o nan imposihility of
Clausewitzian WJI; and from this ,I host of other tar-reachiriji (political as well as theoretic,~l)
coticlusions. Thew strong pol~ticalconclusions, however, depend o n a concept~~alwation of secur-
ity (existent~althreats t o sovereignty) as hy necessity ni~htar): Elsewhere, 1 have criticisecl F,gon
R,dir's L I S ~of t h ~ sopcr,ltlon and hi\ way of thereby establishing political necessity from ;I mili-
wry analys~s;Ole W z w r "Ideologies ot Srabili7at1on - St,lh~l~/ationof Ideologies: K e a d ~ n g
G e r m l n Social I)emocrats," in: V. H a r k and P. Sivonen, eds., h i r o p e in TrilnsitiOn: Polltics imd
Nnclcnr Strategy ( I ondon: Frances P~nter,1989), pp. 110-39. Still, the a n a l y s ~ spresented here
owes very much t o the iniprcs\~vea n d orig~n'ilC l a u e w i t i ~nterprerationof Anders Boscrup.
18. Anders Roserup, "St'~ten, snmf~llidetog k r ~ g e nhos Clausc\vitz," In: Carl von C l a ~ ~ s e w i t ~ ,
O m Krig, [ ~ i n d111: kom~ncntnrerog regrstrc (Copenhagen: Khodos, 1986), pp. 9 1 1-30.
19. Carl von clause wit^, V o m Krieg. [originally publ~shcd 18.121, (Frankfurt: Ullstein
i\/laterialen, 1980), p. 19 - Book I, Ch,lpter I . 1 follow here 1.1. (kaham's translat~onin O n War,
edited with a n introduction by Anatol Rapoport (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 198.5), p. 103.
20. C l a u s e w m , Vont Kric~gcBook I. chapter 1, p. 17; O n LV'JY,p. 101.
2 1. Aron, ['race and N'n, p. 2 I .
22. T h o m a s Hobbes. 1.cwrath~rn(Middlesex: I'elican Boohs, 1968 11651 11, pp. 2.32t.
23. M o r e prec~selv,in the theory of speech acts, "secur~ty" would he seen a s ,In 11loc.r.r-
tron'rrv act; t h ~ IS \ elahorarcd a t length in my "Securit); the Speech Act." See also: J.1.. Austin,
hot^, to d o 'I'hrnp wrth Words (Oxford: Oxford Un~versit)Press, 197.5, 2nd ed.), pp. 98ff.
94 Widening Security

24. A point to which we will return: The other side of the move will, in most cases, be at
least the price of some loss of prestige as a result of needing to use this special resort
("National security was threatened") or, in the case of failure, the act backfires and raises ques-
tions about the viability and reputation of the regime. In this sense the move is similar to rais-
ing a bet - staking more on the specific issue, giving it principled importance and thereby
investing it with basic order questions.
25. The strongest case for the theoretical status of speech act failure being equal to success
is given by Jacques Derrida, "Signature Event Context," Glyph 1 (1977): 172-97 (originally
presented in 1971). The article was reprinted, in a different translation, in Jacques Derrida,
Margins of Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).
26. Raymond Aron, On War: Atomic Weapons and Global Diplomacy (London: Secker
and Warburg, 1958 [French original 1957]), pp. 80-102.
27. Rudolf Horst Brocke, Deutschlandpolitische Positionen der Bundestagsparteien -
Synopse (Erlangen: Deutsche Gesellschaft fiir zeitgeschichtliche Fragen, 1985), pp. 66f and 79f.
28. Wilfried von Bredow and Rudolf Horst Brocke, Das deutschlandpolitische Konzept
der SPD (Erlangen: Deutsche Gesellschaft fiir zeittgeschichtliche Fragen, 1986); Ole Wzver
"Ideologies of Stabilization"; and Ole Wzver, "Conceptions of DCtente and Change: Some Non-
military Aspects of Security Thinking in the FRG," pp. 186-224, in: Wzver, et al., European
29. Weaklstrong states refer (in contrast to weaklstrong powers) to the political strength
of the state; how much state the state is, which means basically the degree of sociopolitical
cohesion - not least how well the fit between state and nation is. Weaktstrong powers then
cover the more traditional concern about the "power" of a unit (as its ability to influence other
units). See Buzan People, States and Fear, pp. 96-107, 113f and 154-58.
30. Ole Wzver, "Conflicts of Vision -Visions of Conflict," pp. 283-325 in: Wzver, et al.,
European Polyphony.
31. See, e.g., Theodore Draper, "A New History of the Velvet Revolution," New York
Review of Books, Jan. 14, 28, 1993 (in two parts).
32. Ole Wzver, "The Changing Character of Continuity."
33. See Jadwiga Staniszkis, "The Dynamics of a Breakthrough in the Socialist System: An
Outline of Problems," Soviet Studies 41, no. 4 (1989): 560-73; Jadwiga Staniszkis, The Ontology
of Socialism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).
34. To this might be added the interpretations of "conversion of power," that is, the way the
old elite transformed its old system power into new capitalist "power" - and therefore did not
need to oppose change as strongly as one would have expected. See Staniszkis, "Dynamics";
ElernCr Hankiss, East European Alternatives: Are There Any? (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1990); and Ole Wasver, "The Changing Character of Continuity," pp. Ilff.
35. Ole Wzver, "Security the Speech Act," pp. 4Sf. - making reference to the argument of
Derrida, "Signature Event Context."
36. Ole Wzver, "Three Competing Europes: German, French, Russian," International
Affairs 66, no. 3 (July 1990): 477-93; especially pp. 486-88.
37. Ole Wzver, "The Changing Character of Continuity," pp. 20f.
38. Alternatively, but not much better (in the eyes of the security establishment), a slogan
of "non-military aspects of security" could point toward the "Eastern" argument for economic
and political security and thereby for legitimizing a concern for system stability beyond the
field of military threats (cf. the preceding section).
39. The articles were: Robert D. Hormats, "The Economic Consequences of the Peace -
1989"; Hans W. Maull, "Energy and Resources: The Strategic Dimension"; Neville Brown,
"Climate, Ecology and International Security"; Michael J. Dziedzic, "The Transnational Drug
Trade and Regional Security"; and Sam C. Sarkesian, "The Demographic Component."
40. Secretary Baker, "Diplomacy for the Environment," address before the National
Governors' Association, February 26, 1990, Washington D.C. (reprinted in Current Policy, No.
1254, February 1990), quoted in Richard H. Moss, "Environmental Security? The illogic of cen-
tralized state responses to environmental threats," in: Paul Painchaud, ed., Geopolitical
Perspectives on Environmental Security (Cahier du GERPE, No. 92-05, Universite Laval, Quebec).
? , ar 1 1 Securitization and Desecuritization 95

41. This is one of the fite sectors drscussed by Buzan in l'coplc, States and Fear, pp. 13 1-33.
42. Barry Buzan, "Env~ronmenta s a Security Issue," in: P'iul Painchaud, ed. Geopolitrc-irl
Perspectiries on Environmental Securlty (Cahrer d u GERPE, N o . 92-05, UniversitG Laval,
Quebec), pp. I and 24f.
43. Buzan, "Environment as '1 Security Issue," p. 15.
44. Moss, "Env~ronmentalSecurity?." p. 24.
45. Moss, "Environmental Security?," p. 32.
46. ~ < , s squote5 the Scnarr A r n ~ c dSCTV~CCS
C<>tm,m;ttcc to thi. effect t h a t protecting U.S.
interests against environmental changes "may ult~matelyrequire the use of U.S. mil~tary
power." See "Env~ronmentalSecurity?," p. 21.
47. Daniel Deudney, "The Case A g a ~ n s Linking
t Fhvironlnental Degradation and N ~ t ~ o n a l
Security," Millennium 19, no. 3 (Winter 1990): 461-76; here quoted from p. 467.
48. Moss, "Environmental Security?," p. 32.
49. Buzan, "Environment as a Secur~tyissue," p. 24.
50. This was w h a t led AndrG G o r r some years ago to the conclusion that the tvay we
addressed environmental issues (which he certainly cdred about t o o ) contained the danger of
"eco-fascism." See Andre (iorz, Ecologie et lrherte (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1977). See also
Charles T. Rubin, The Green Crusade ( N e w York: Free Press, 1994).
51. Anders Boserup, presentation o n the concept o f securrty. Centre for Peace , ~ n dConflict
Research, Copenhagen, 1985.
52. Buzan, "Environment a s a Security Issue."
53. Buzan, "Envrronment as a Secur~tyIssue," p. 26.
54. I>eudney, "The Case Agalnst Linking Envlronrnental Degradation ...," p. 469.
S5. Kuzan, "Environment as J Security Issue," p. 25; see pp. 16-19 about the economlc
56. Thrs issue ot the nature o t society (and individuals) I S a debate often replayed under var-
ious h e a d i n g such as methodological individualisn~verslrs niethodological collectrvism, o r more
fashionably these past few years a s liberal~srnversus communitarianism; see, for example, Tracy
B. Strong, ed., The Selfand tile Political Order (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992); and Q u e n t ~ nSkmner,
''On Justice, the Cornmon ( h o d and the Priority of Liherty," pp. 2 11-24 in: Chantal Mouffe,
ed., Dintenstons of Radical Democvilcy: I'brrulisnr, Cztt~msl71p.(:omnzunity (London: Verw,
1992). F~nally,there is a point In critrcizing dichotomies like the C;emetnschaft/Gesellscl~~zft one,
inasmuch as it obscures the important political arena of practices that are neither openly
addressed nor a necessary expression of the "soul" of a conimunity but transferred In the form
of "practical knowledge." See Kichard K. Ashley, " l m p o s ~ n gInternat~onalPurpose: Notes o n a
Problematic of (;overnance." pp. 2 5 1-90, in: E:O. Czernpiel and J.N. Rosenau, eds., Global
C h a n p s and T17roretici~lC:hilllen~rs(Lexington: 1.exington Kooks, 1989); and Ole W m e r ,
"International Society: the <;rammar. ... " Finally, ~t could he argued that this debate ought to
be displaced toward "the re\pective ronstttutron of the 'self') and the p o l ~ t y(the
'order')," a s argued by Tracy Strong, The Self, p. 3.
57. T h e insecurity of social groups could affect the s t a b ~ l ~ and
r y security of soc~etya s a kmd
of insecurity from helow: T h e insecurity of social groups might spread t o whole societies and
into other sectors. Thus, "societal securrty" entail5 an Interest In security a t all lower levels.
It seems, however, not adv~sahleto tlefinr the sum of these smaller secur~tiesas societal security,
inasmuch ac thls would Ie'id LIS down the track toward a n atomlstlc, aggregate view of securrt);
where the ultinute question is individual (= global) security. Openmg u p the definition of soci-
etal security as the securlty of varlous groups would (beyond probably proving to be a n infin~te
expansion of the subject) lead in the direction of an aggregate conception of the constituent col-
lectivities. As with state securlty, societal security has t o he understood first of all as the sccur-
rty of a social agent which has an independent reality and whlch IS Inore than and different from
the sum of ~ t individuals.
s Approaching it by way of summing up, aggregatmg individual pref-
erences, one will never capture the nature o f its security prohlenis which are constituted In the
relationship of a state and itr environment and a society and ~ t environment.
s In the case of soci-
etal security, it is actually the case that societies are often made insecure because important
group5 in society feel insecure. This, however, has t o be kept conceptually separate from the
96 Widening Security

security of a society, societal security. Societal is not social security. The referent object for soci-
etal security is society as such, neither the state, nor the (sum of the) individuals.
58. The logic of security points to questions of survival but, of course, the rhetoric of secur-
ity will often be employed in cases where survival - that is, sovereignty or identity - is not actu-
ally threatened, but in which it is possible to legitimate political action by making reference to
such a threat. State security can be influenced by the (in)security of a society on which it is
based, but this has to be seen as a two-step procedure. In the case of real "nation states", there
will be small difference between the pure state definition and the new more complex one of
state security via societal security. When nation and state do not coincide, however, the secur-
ity of a state-challenging nation will often increase the insecurity of the state. More precisely,
if the state has a homogenizing "national" program, its security will by definition be in con-
flict with the societal security of "national" projects of subcommunities inside the state.
59. This can be analyzed in terms of a "new middle ages." The medieval metaphor has the
advantage of drawing our attention to the change in the organizing principle of the sovereign,
territorial state, and not the nation-state (which is only half as old). The national idea is obvi-
ously not dying out (nor is politics as such giving way to interdependence or technocratic
administration as often imdied in ideas of "end of the nation-state"): what is modified is the
organization of political space. For some four centuries, political space was organized through
the principle of territorially defined units with exclusive rights inside, and a special kind of rela-
tions on the outside: International relations, foreign policy, without any superior authority.
There is no longer one level that is clearly the most important to refer to but, rather, a set of
overlapping authorities. Consequently, even those nations most closely approaching the ideal
type of the nation-state are beginning to lose the option of referring always to "their" state.
In a historical perspective, therefore, the state-nation relationship is moving toward an
unprecedented situation. The nation, born into an interstate system based on the sovereign
state (already 200-300 years old at the time), might continue into a post-sovereignty situation.
Thus, the post-modern political system will not be totally like the Middle Ages in this import-
ant sense. The understanding of this complex evolution is often blocked by the use of the term
"nation-state" as designating both the emergence of the national idea and the twice as old ter-
ritorial state (i.e. the principle of territoriality, sovereignty, and exclusivity), which means that
the specific nature and importance of the latter concept (which is the basic system organizing
principle) is overlooked. This obscures an understanding of the importance of a possible
change at this level. Announcements of the demise of the nation-state are often refuted by
pointing to the continuing importance of nationalisrnlthe nation idea, but this misses the point
since the major change seems to happen at the level of the state (which of course implies that
the nation-state as we have known it will also change since it was built on the territorial state),
whereas the nation as such continues.
See Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (London:
Macmillan, 1977), pp. 254f, 264ff, 285f, and 291ff; James Der Derian, On Diplomacy:
A Genealogy of Western Estrangement (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987) pp. 70 and 79ff; Timothy
W. Luke, "The Discipline of Security Studies and the Codes of Containment: Learning from
Kuwait," Alternatives 16, no. 3 (Summer 1991): 315-44, especially pp. 340f; Ole Wzver,
"Territory, Authority and Identity: The late 20th Century emergence of Neo-Medieval Political
Structures in Europe," paper for the 1st conference of EUPRA, European Peace Research
Association, Florence, November 8-10, 1991.
60. See Ole Wzver, et a/., Identity, Migration and the new Security Agenda, especially chap-
ter 4; and Ole Waever, "Insecurity and Identity Unlimited," in: AnneMarie Le Gloannec &
Kerry McNamara, eds., The European Disorder, forthcoming (Centre for Peace and Conflict
Research, Copenhagen, Working Paper 1994114).
61. See, for example, Ernesto Laclau, Thoughts on the Revolution of Our Times (London:
Verso, 1990), pp. 89-92.
62. Probably we see here the reason why all this is more cryptic to Americans than to
Europeans. At first, a concept of societal security should seem more natural to Anglo-Saxons
who allegedly see state and society as separate, whereas the continental tradition is for state and
society to be conceived as related; see Kenneth Dyson, The State Tradition in Western Europe
\i , t i i I Securitization and Desecuritization 97

(Oxford: Martin Robertson, 1980); Henry A. Kissinger, A World Restored (Boston: Houghton
Miflin, 1957), pp. 192-95. The American trad~tionis, however, of a rather minimalist concept
of state, In which the state is not given any inherent rarson d'gtre in and of itself, hut is only leglt-
m a t e d as derivative (in the form of some kmd of s o c i ~ contract1 l and only when and if ~t serve\
- a n d defends - society. Contmentals 'ire more prone to grant the state its own r g h t t o existence,
and continental traditions point t o soricty as a collective, as 111ore-than-the-sum-of-the-parts,
which IS more alien to anglo-l~beralthought. Thus, in American thinking, "security" is implicitly
~ ulti~llat~ly
~ S C L I I t~uT be d rcferrnce t o cecuring i~rd;z,iclrcols.A concept of soc~etal
I ~ ~ i t i n i i z chy
security then becomes odd (the natural reaction is t o call for more correct and appropriate state
policy), unless one denounces the social contract conception as simply IiherallAmerican ideology.
If one agrees w ~ t hThomas I'a~ne that "What is government more than the management of the
affairs of a natmn? It I S not," and turther that sovereignty rests wirh the nation, which has always
the rtght "to abolish m y form o f government if finds inconvenient and establish such as ,iccords
with its interests, it\ disposition and ~ t happinessn s (Rr,yi~tsof M m , pp. xx), then separate agendas
o f security for state .ind nation hecome inconceivable. To continental Europeans, the state, more
than a pr,lgmatic Instrument for achieving the collective Interests o f a group of individu,tls, i \
seen as a unit wirh ~ t own s logic and concerns. So is society.
63. Carl Schmitt even cLlirned that the task of the state was t o define enemy and friend,
and if the state fililcd to accomplish t h ~ s ,inevitably others \vould come forward and d o so,
whereby the state would lose its position m d be replaced by the new power. Carl Schmitt, 1)cr
Rcgriff des Polrtischrn (Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 1963 119.12]),especially pp. 45-54.
64. Elizahcth (;. Ferris, "Peace, Security and the Movement of People," unpuhl~shedpaper,
Life arid Peace Institute, Uppsala, Sweden.
65. Quoted b! Ferris, p. 17.
66. Wzver, "Three Competing Europes."
67. lahn, cJtd . , fiuropmn S~ctrrity,pp. 3.5-37.
68. James Der 1)crian "SIN: Intern,~tio~lalTheory, Balk,lniz,ltion, and the New World
Order," M i l l ~ n t ~ i u20,
w ~ 3 ( 199 I ): 485-506, quote o n p. 488; a150 in Der L k ~ a n Awtidrplotrrr~cy:
Spws, 7rrrov. Spred. '2nd War (Oxford: Blackwell, 19921, pp. 141-69.
69. Uer Derian, "SIN," p. 4 9 1.
70. Markus l ~ c h t e n f u c h sand M i c h x l Huber, "Institutional I'earning in the European
Chrnmunity: The Kespon\e t o the <;reenhouse Effect." In: J.D. Lifferink, P.D. [.owe ,lnd
A.P.J. Mol, eds., k~tropeanI ~ t ~ g r ~ ~mt dt ot ltn~~ ~ ~ r ~ n i n c t Iz' tOiIzI lC ~ (1.01idon:Bclknap, in press).
71. This argument is all-pervasive In the Europe,~npress a i d used by numerous politic~ans,
rncludmg Kohl a \ well as Mitterrand. An intelligent p o l ~ c >nn,tlysis argulng strongly along
these lines is \upplied by Peter Glotz, "F.urop<i a m Scheideu-eg" Europa Archic~47, n o . 18
(Septemher 25, 1992): 503-14. Attempts t o ground this ~deologicalanalysis in ( m a ~ n l yneo-
reallst) theory is found in: K u ~ a n ,et al., Tire Eur.opem S e u r i t y Ordrr Rccust: Ole W m e r ,
"S~kkerhedspolitiskStabihtet og N a t ~ o n a lIdentitet," pp. 101-6 1 in Christen Sorensen, ed.,
Europa - Nution, [inion: Eftcr Mlnsk og Manstricht (<:openhagen: Fremad, 1992).
72. Ole Wlrcer, "Model11 e rcenari futuri," I'olitira Irztc~r~taiona/e 2 1, no. 3 (gennaw-
marzo 1993): 5-27; m d Ole Waver, "Identity, Integrrltion and Security: Solving the Sovereignty
Pwzle In li.11. Srudics," ,/ourtzd of Intrrtzational Affirrrs 48, no. 2 (1995).
7.3. I'ress conference ot the I'res~dent, F r a n ~ o i sMitterrand, I r i East Berlin, December 22,
1989 (reprinted in E u r o p arc hi:^ no. 4 (1990): 1). 96-99),
74. Jacques Delors, "European Integration and Security," Srtr:ival 33, n o . 2 (M,~rchI/\pril
199 1): 99-109, quotation from p. 103.
7.5. Henry A. Kissinger, A World R c s t o r ~ d Ole ; Wxver, "Three C;ompettng Europes"; Ole
Wzver, "International Society: Theoretical Promises Unfulfilled?" Cooperation and Conflict 27,
no. 1 11992): 147-78.
76. With European security used in the f r a g r n e n t ~ t ~ o n l i ~ ~ t e g r away t i o n (as presented
above), the price seems t o be that Yugoslavia hecomes the test case for "Europe." As a place
t o "prove" Europe, however, solving the problem of the Balkan\ is hardly the test one would
choose. The unfortunate first case poses a risk t o Yugoslavia as well as t o the EU. As the EU
h , ~ sbecome pulleditempted t o jump into the conflict, it hccomes an aim in itself t o act.
98 Widening Security

Moreover, the EU has been conducting its policy with the main criteria being the effect on the
EU, not on Yugoslavia. See Ole Walver, "Den europaliske union og organiseringen av sikker-
heden i Europa," pp. 33-72, in: Martin Salter et al., Karakteren av Den europeiske union
(NUPI-Report no. 160, July 1992, Oslo), especially pp. 64-66; Hikan Wiberg, "Divided States
and Divided Nations as a Security Problem - the Case of Yugoslavia" (Centre for Peace and
Conflict Research, Working Paper no. 1992114).
77. This is probably most clearly argued in "Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historic fiir das
Leben," where Nietzsche says for instance that "all great things" depend on illusions in order to
succeed (in Friedrich Nietzsche, Werke (FrankfurtIM: Ullstein 1969, vol. I), p. 254). It further
links up to the themes of "setting values" and "creating beyond oneself" from, for instance "Thus
spoke Zarathustra," and the risk implied in "the will to power."See, for example, Werke, vol. 2,
pp. 301, 356ff, 394f, 600,73Of, and 817-20; and Ole Wzver, "Tradition and Transgression. ..."
78. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1958),
p. 192.
79. If some reader were puzzled above to find the author referring to himself as an exam-
ple of an "ideological" and "disciplining" move, this was not (necessarily)a case of analytical
scizophrenia but, rather, a conscious self-deconstruction. This points toward a tricky question
about post-structuralism and politics. For understandable but contingent institutional reasons,
post-structuralists have emerged on the academic scene with the political program of tearing
down "givens," of opening up, making possible, freeing. This invites the reasonable question:
opening up room for what? Neo-nazis? War? How can the post-structuralist be sure that "lib-
erating minds" and "transcending limits" will necessarily lead to more peaceful conditions,
unless one makes an incredible enlightenment-indebted "harmony of interests" assumption?
For someone working in the negatively-driven field of security, a post-structuralist politics of
responsibility must turn out differently, with more will to power and less de-naturalization.
Security Studies and the End of the Cold War
David A. Baldwin

Graham All~sonand Gregory F. Treverton, eds. Rethinkmg Arnertca's

Secuwty: Beyond Cold War t o N e w World Order. New York:
W. W. Norton, 1992, 479 pp.
John L e w ~ sC a d d ~ s .T h e Unzted States and the End of the Cold War:
I m p l ~ a t i o n s , Reconslderatzons, Provocations. New York: Oxford
U n ~ v e r s ~ tPress,
y 1992, 301 pp.
M ~ c h a e lJ. Hogan, ed. T h e End of the Cold War: Its Meanzng and
Implicatmns. New York: Cambrtdge U n ~ v e r s ~ Press, ty 1992, 294 pp.
Richard Shultz, Roy Godson, and Ted Greenwood, eds. Securtty Studzes
for the 7 990s. New York: Brassey's, 1993, 4 2 3 pp.

T he end of the cold war is arguably the most momentous event in

international politics since the end of World War I1 and the dawn of
the atomic age. Paraphrasing John F. Kennedy on the advent of nuclear
weapons, one scholar sees the end of the cold war as changing "all the
answers and all the questions."' Another scholar, however, denies that there
have been any "fundamental changes in the nature of international politics
since World War 11" and asserts that states will have to worry as much
about military security as they did during the cold war (Mearsheimer, in
Allison and Treverton, 214, 235). Most of the fifty or so authors whose
work appears in the books reviewed here take the more moderate position
that the end of the cold war changes some of the questions and some of the
answers, but they disagree over which questions and answers are at issue.
Despite the disparity of views among the authors, three themes emerge.
First, military power has declined in importance in international politics.'
For some this means that military threats are less prevalent, while for others
it means that military force is less useful as a tool of statecraft. Second, there
is a need to reexamine the way we think about international relations and
national security."or some this need stems from the changed circumstances

Source: World Pol~trrs,48( 1 ) ( 199 5): 1 17-41.

100 Widening Security

of the post-cold war world; for others it grows out of the collective failure
of scholars to anticipate either the timing or the nature of the end of the cold
war. And third, there is a need for a broader view of national security (see
especially the essays by Schelling and Peterson, in Allison and Treverton).
For some this means including domestic problems on the national security
agenda; for others it means treating nonmilitary external threats to national
well-being as security issues.
Each of these books raises fundamental questions about the theories,
concepts, and assumptions used to analyze security during the cold war and
about those that should be used now, in its aftermath. This review in turn
seeks to lay the intellectual groundwork for a reexamination of security
studies as a subfield of international relation^.^
The discussion is presented in three parts. The first surveys the emer-
gence and evolution of security studies as a subfield of international rela-
tions. It suggests that scholars who wrote on national security at the beginning
of the cold war had a broader and more useful approach to the topic than
those writing at its end. The second part assesses the relevance of security
studies to the new world order. It argues that the field's treatments of the
goal of security, the means for pursuing it, and the domestic dimensions of
security raise serious questions about its ability to cope with the post-cold
war world. And the third part reviews proposals for the future study of
security; these range from holding to the status quo to abolishing the sub-
field and reintegrating it with the study of international politics and foreign
policy. It suggests that a strong case can be made for reintegration.

I . The Evolution of Security Studies

It has become a commonplace to associate the origins of security studies

with the twin stimuli of nuclear weaponry and the cold wats This approach,
however, can easily give the misleading impression that security studies was
created ex nihilo sometime between 1945 and 1955. Before one can under-
stand the impact of the cold war on thinking about national security, one
must first examine the pre-cold war scholarship on the subject. Was there
simply a void to be filled because no one had been studying national secur-
ity or war? Were existing approaches to the study of foreign policy and
international politics too narrow and rigid to accommodate students of the
cold war? It will be argued that each of these questions should be answered
in the negative. Indeed, in many ways the study of national security grew
more narrow and rigid during the cold war than it had been before.

The Interwar Period

If security studies is defined as the study of the nature, causes, effects, and
prevention of war, the period between the First and Second World Wars was
not the intellectual vacuum it is often thought to be. During this period
I Security Studies 10 1

international relations scholars believed that democracy, international under-

standing, arbitration, national self-determination, disarmament, and collec-
tive security were the most important ways to promote international peace
and ~ e c u r i t y .They
~ therefore tended to emphasize international law and
organization rather than military force. Quincy Wright's Study of War, pub-
lished in 1942, was far more than a single book by a single author. It was
the culmination o f a major research project dating from 1926, a project that
spawned numerous studies by such scholars as William T.R. Fox, Bernard
Brodie, Harold Lasswell, Eugene Staley, Jacob Viner, Vernon Van Dyke, and
many others. In an appendix entitled "Co-operative Research on War,"
Wright describes numerous scholarly research projccts on aspects of war
conducted by various groups during the interwar period.' Fifty years later
A Study of War still stands as the most thorough and con~prehensivetreatise
on war in any language. It inspires awe in its coverage of the legal, moral,
economic, political, biological, psychological, historical, sociological, anthro-
pological, technological, and philosophical aspects of war.
For Wright, war was primarily a problem to be solved, a disease to he
cured, rather than an instrument of statecraft. The book was, according to Fox,
"as notable for its inattention to problems o f nutiorzal strategy and national
security as for its dispassionate portrayal of war as a malfunction of the inter-
national ~ y s t e m . "Except
~ for a few scholars, such as Frederick Sherwood
Dunn, Nicholas J. Spykman, Arnold Wolfers, Edward Mead Earle, and Harold
and Margaret Sprout, the study of military force as an instrument of state-
craft for promoting national security tended to be neglected. This was the
crucial difference between security studies before and after 1940.
All of this changed rapidly with the onset of World War 11, when "national
security became a central concern of international relationists of widely differ-
ent persuasions. For all of them, moreover, it called for explicit consideration
of force as it related to policy in conflicts among first-ranking nation-states.""
By 1941 a course on war and national policy, designed by Grayson Kirk,
John Herz, Bernard Brodie, Felix Gilbert, Alfred Vagts, and others was being
taught at Columbia University; and similar courses were developed during
the war at Princeton, the University of North Carolina, Northwestern, the
University of Pen~lsylvania,and Yale.'" A book of readings developed for
such courses was nearly eight hundred pages long.[

T h e First Postwar Deca

Later chroniclers of the history of security studies have suggested that there
was little academic interest in security studies until the m i d - 1 9 5 0 ~when~ it
was sparked by concern about the doctrine of massive r e t a l i a t i ~ n . 'Although
it is true that national security was treated within the broader framework of
international relations and foreign policy, it is not true that questions of the
security of the nation were ignored. By 1954 a rich literature on national secur-
ity affairs was available to anyone wishing to design courses or do research."
It was, as Fox observed, "to be expected that fifteen years of world war and
102 Widening Security

postwar tension, with national security problems continually at the center of

public and governmental interest, would shape the research activities of social
scientists generally." l4
It is difficult to make the case that the first decade after World War 11
was a period in which civilian intellectuals evinced little interest in national
security. To the contrary, it is more accurately described as the most creative
and exciting period in the entire history of security studies. Numerous
courses on international politics and foreign policy were added to college
curricula during this period.'" Two major graduate schools devoted entirely
to international affairs were founded - the School for Advanced Inter-
national Studies at Johns Hopkins and the School of International Affairs
at Columbia University. Also founded during this period were International
Organization (1947) and World Politics (1948), two major professional
journals, both of which published articles on national security. In addition,
there were at least three strong research centers focusing on national secur-
ity: the Yale Institute of International Studies had emphasized national secur-
ity policy since the 1930s and continued to do so after it moved to Princeton
and became the Center of International Studies in 1951. At Columbia,
Grayson Kirk encouraged the study of military force and national policy,
and the Institute of War and Peace Studies was established in 1951. And
at the University of Chicago the strong foundations laid by Quincy Wright
were strengthened when Hans Morgenthau joined the faculty in 1943. The
Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy was established under his
direction in 1950. And in 1952 the Social Science Research Council estab-
lished a committee on National Security Research, chaired by Fox.16
During the period 1945-55 scholars were well aware of military instru-
ments of statecraft, but security studies was not yet as preoccupied with
nuclear weaponry and deterrence as it would become later on. Although no
single research question dominated the field, four themes recurred. First,
security was viewed not as the primary goal of all states at all times but
rather as one among several values, the relative importance of which varied
from one state to another and from one historical context to another.
Brodie described security as "a derivative value, being meaningful only in
so far as it promotes and maintains other values which have been or are
being realized and are thought worth securing, though in proportion to the
magnitude of the threat it may displace all others in primacy."" This view
focused attention on the trade-offs between military security and other values,
such as economic welfare, economic stability, and individual freedom.
Second, national security was viewed as a goal to be pursued by both non-
military and military techniques of statecraft. Warnings against overreliance
on armaments were common. Third, awareness of the security dilemma
often led to emphasis on caution and prudence with respect to military pol-
icy. And fourth, much attention was devoted to the relationship between
national security and domestic affairs, such as the economy, civil liberties,
and democratic political processes.18
Security Studies 103

The question then is not why there was so little interest in security studies
in the decade after World War I1 but rather why later descriptions of the evo-
lution of the field have been so blind to the work of scholars prior to 1955.
It is as if the field came to be so narrowly defined in later years that the ques-
tions addressed during these early years were no longer considered to belong
to the field of security studies.'"ince many of the authors of the books under
review subscribe t o a broader view, this is unfortunate. Many current prob-
lems are related to those addressed in the period 194.5-5.5, for example, the
trade-offs among foreign policy objectives, the trade-offs between foreign
affairs and domestic affairs, and the trade-offs between nonmilitary and mili-
tary policy instruments.

The second decade after World War 11, 195.5-65, has been described as the
"golden age" of security studies."' Unlike the previous decade, the "golden
age" was dominated by nuclear weaponry and related concerns, such as arms
control and limited war. The central question, according to one reviewer, "was
straightforward: how could states use weapons of mass destruction as instru-
ments of policy, given the risk of any nuclear exchange?"" This question, it
should be noted, represented a shift in focus from the previous decade. Whereas
earlier research questions considered what security is, how important it is
relative to other goals, and the means by which it should be pursued, the new
focus was on how to use a particular set of weapons. Contributors to this
literature included Thomas Schelling, Glenn Snyder, William W. Kaufmann,
Herman Kahn, Albert Wohlstetter, Henry Kissinger, and others."
Although deterrence theory, one of the most impressive intellectual
achievements in the history of the study of international relations, was a
product of the "golden age," the period also had its many blind spots. Even
scholars who define security studies in terms of military force have noted the
tendency during that period to overemphasize the military aspects of national
security at the expense of historical, psychological, cultural, organizational,
and political context^.'^ Edward A. Kolodziej evidently has this period in
mind when he observes that "a focus on threat manipulation and force pro-
jections became the central, almost exclusive, concern of security studies."
This agenda, he notes, "was certainly urgent and ample, but the questions
raised were inevitably circumscribed, technical, and nianagerial."'"

If the cold war stimulated and nourished security studies before 196.5, the
decreased salience of the cold war during the next fifteen years contributed
to a period of decline." As Americans turned their interest from the cold
war with the Soviet Union to the hot war in Vietnam, their interest in secur-
ity studies waned. Although some might view this as an irrational reaction
104 Widening Security

on the part of those who thought they could stop war by not studying it,
this would be an oversimplification. In the first place, security studies had
been so preoccupied with U.S.-Soviet relations, NATO, and nuclear strat-
egy that it offered little help to those seeking to understand the Vietnam
War. As Colin Gray put it, the leading strategists knew "next to nothing"
about "peasant nationalism in Southeast Asia or about the mechanics of a
counterrevolutionary war."26 Second, security studies had become so pre-
occupied with war as an instrument of national policy that it had slighted
the legal, moral, and other aspects of war emphasized in Wright's A Study
of War. Third, the desire to be "policy relevant" had led some scholars into
such close relationships with policymakers that they ceased to be perceived
as autonomous intellectuals and came to be considered instead as part of
the policy-making establishment. And fourth, the decline of interest in trad-
itional security studies was partially offset by increased interest in peace
studies and peace research during the 1960s and 1970s, thus indicating that
declining interest in security studies was not tantamount to a lack of intel-
lectual interest in war.27
Interest in security studies did not revive immediately after the Vietnam
War; rather the lessened cold war tensions associated with dCtente allowed
other issues, such as economic interdependence, Third World poverty, and
environmental issues, to increase in salience. And the Arab oil embargo
served as a sharp reminder that threats to the American way of life emanated
from nonmilitary sources, as well as from military ones.

The 1980s

The breakdown of detente and the renewal of cold war tensions in the late
1970s and 1980s once again stimulated interest in security studies. Student
interest was rekindled, foundation money poured in, and research burgeoned,
as the old national security studies was replaced by the new international
security studies.
The new international security studies, however, looked much like the
version of national security studies that had evolved after 1955. One writer,
who had written a comprehensive survey of the field in 1975, noted the
renaming of the field and observed that "the substance of the problems
addressed did not change markedly from what national security specialists
had been working on earlier."28 Another writer proclaimed the rejuvenation
of security studies in the 1980s as the "renaissance" of the field. Defining
the field as "the study of the threat, use, and control of military force," he
portrayed the renaissance as bringing history, psychology, and organization
theory to bear on such familiar topics as deterrence theory and nuclear
weapons policy and consideration of such topics as the conventional mili-
tary balance, the danger of surprise attack, alternative force postures, and
the role of the U.S. Navy.29 Although there were undoubtedly new insights
during the 1980s, such topics continued to reflect the preoccupation that
had characterized the field since 1955 - the use of military means to meet
i L i i t J i i 111 Security Studies 105

military threats. It is small wonder that a European security specialist, not-

ing the military focus of strategic studies, recently observed that "in the
United States the field of international security studies has often been equated
with strategic studies.""' The cold war not only militarized American secu-
rity policy, it also militarized the study of ~ e c u r i t y . ~ '
In sum, a case can be made that the origins of security studies predate
the cold war, nuclear weaponry, and the so-called golden age. The purpose
of such an exercise is not just to set the record straight; it is also a way of
placing the study of security during the cold war in perspective. The cold
war permeated thinking about security for so long that it will be very diffi-
cult to break free from old habits of thought.
The cold war affected both the level of activity and the substantive focus
of research on security. It focused attention on nuclear weaponry and strat-
egies, on East-West relations, and on the security problems of the United States
and Western Europe. At the beginning of the cold war, scholars operating
within the broader framework of foreign policy studies and international
politics considered national security as one of several important foreign policy
goals, with important domestic dimensions and implications, to be pursued by
nonmilitary as well as military means. During the cold war the primacy of
national security, defined largely in military terms, came to be viewed more
as a premise than as a topic for debate. Similarly, military instruments
of statecraft became the central, if not the exclusive, concern of security spe-
The question now is whether security studies so conceived is adequate
for coping with post-cold war security problems.

11. S e c u r i t y S t u d i e s a n d t h e N e w World O r d e r

During the cold war military threats to national security dominated all others
in the eyes of most security specialists. With the end of the cold war have come
numerous suggestions that resources once devoted to coping with military
threats now be used to deal with such nonmilitary threats as domestic poverty,
educational crises, industrial competitiveness, drug trafficking, crime, inter-
national migration, environmental hazards, resource shortages, global poverty,
and so on." The challenge, according to the Final Keport of the Seventy-ninth
American Assembly, is to "rethink the concept of national security" (Allison
and Treverton, 44647). Is the field of security studies capable of meeting this
challenge? A tentative answer is suggested by examining the field with respect
to three critical issues: the goal of national security, the means for pursuing it,
and the relation between domestic affairs and national security.

The end of the cold war, like its beginning, raises the question of how
important military security is in comparison with other goals of public policy.
106 Widening Security

Although security specialists have become accustomed to thinking in terms

of trade-offs within the military sphere, such as that between missiles and sub-
marines, they have been reluctant to extend that logic to trade-offs between
military security and nonmilitary policy goals. Instead, they have tended to
assert the primacy of military security over other goals. The following three
passages are examples of this tendency.

In anarchy, security is the highest end. Only if survival is assured can

states safely seek such other goals as tranquility, profit, and power.33
The axiom of the primacy of national security among the responsi-
bilities of government cannot be escaped. ... Governments, as a matter
of empirical fact, almost invariably commit as many resources and sac-
rifice as many other desiderata as they feel necessary to preserve their
national security.34
States are surely concerned about prosperity, and thus economic cal-
culations are not trivial for them. However, states operate in both an
international political environment and an international economic envir-
onment, and the former dominates the latter in cases where the two
come into conflict. The reason is straightforward: the international
political system is anarchic, which means that each state must always be
concerned to ensure its own survival. A state can have no higher goal
than survival, since profits matter little when the enemy is occupying
your country and slaughtering your citizens. (Mearsheimer, in Allison
and Treverton, 222)

Each of these passages can be interpreted in (at least) two ways. On the
one hand, since neither national security nor survival can ever be corn-
pletely assured, there can be no limit on resources allocated to this purpose;
and thus no trade-offs with other goals are ever a d m i ~ s i b l e On
. ~ ~the other
hand, the passages may be interpreted as implying that such trade-offs are
admissible only after a minimum threshold of assurance of survival andlor
national security has been attained. The latter, somewhat generous inter-
pretation is surely the more defensible.
The trouble with the second interpretation is that it fails to distinguish
between the goal of national security (or survival) and other important
goals. For example, the economist could assert the primacy of economic
welfare, since states are likely to worry little about external military threats
if their citizens have no food, clothing, or shelter, that is, no economic wel-
fare. Likewise, the environmentalist could assert the primacy of environ-
mental concerns, since minimum amounts of breathable air and drinkable
water are more important than security from external attack. In order to
survive, states need minimum amounts not only of security from external
attack but also of breathable air, drinkable water, economic welfare, and so
forth. A state without armed forces to protect it from external attack may
not survive, but a state without breathable air or drinkable water will surely
not survive.
I Security Studies 107

Of course, as King Midas learned, the value of anything - security, eco-

nomic welfare, clean air - is determined not only by one's preferences but also
by how much of it one has. The law of diminishing marginal utility is as applic-
able to national security affairs as it is to other spheres of social life. Although
it is true that military security is an important goal of states, it is not true that
conflicts with other goals of public policy will always - or should always - be
rcsolved i n favor o f security. In a world of scarce resources, the of mili-
tary security is always in conflict with other goals, such as economic welfare,
environmental protection, and social welfare. This is just another way of say-
ing that the pursuit of security involves opportunity costs - as does any other
human action. A rational policymaker will allocate resources to security only
as long as the marginal return from a dollar spent o n an additional increment
of security is greater than that for a dollar spent on other goals.
In order to justify shifting resources from guns to butter, one need not
argue that butter is inherently superior to guns or that butter provides more
total utility to society than guns. It is only necessary to argue that the mar-
ginal utility of an expenditure on butter exceeds that of the marginal utility
of that same expenditure on guns. A rational policymaker cannot escape the
necessity of comparing the value of an increment of security with an incre-
ment of other goals at the margin. The law of diminishing marginal utility
suggests that the more abundant security is, the less valuable it is likely to
be at the margin." Those, including many of the writers reviewed here, who
believe that the end of the cold war has made military security more abun-
dant are therefore likely to suggest that the time has come to shift resources
from security to other goals of public policy.
If Rethinking American Security is an accurate indicator, public policy
debates in the post-cold war world are likely to be increasingly concerned
with trade-offs between military security and other public policy goals. An
earlier generation of scholars, writing within the framework of foreign policy
and international politics during the first decade after World War 11, viewed
the goal of military security as one of many public policy goals competing for
scarce resources and s ~ ~ b j e ctot the law of diminishing marginal utility."
Many of their writings are more relevant to the post-cold war world than are
those of more recent writers who assert the primacy of the goal of national
security. To the extent that today's security specialists cling to the idea that
security dominates all other public policy goals, they are unlikely to make
helpful contributions to the post-cold war debate on public policy.

Security studies has traditionally devoted less attention to the goal of security
than to the means by which it is pursued. More accurately, one should say
that the field has tended to focus on one set of means by which security may
be pursued, that is, military statecraft. One recent review of the field, for
example, ignores security as a goal and defines the field entirely in terms of
means, that is, "the study of the threat, use, and control of military force.""
108 Widening Security

Likewise, Shultz, Godson, and Greenwood focus their volume on "the trad-
itional and historical essence of the subject: the threat, use and management
of military force" (p. 2).39
The reasons for the emphasis on means rather than ends are not self-
evident. A partial explanation for the emphasis on military force may be found
in the common practice of equating security interests with "vital interests."
Since the latter are typically defined as those interests for which a country is
willing to use force, some confusion between means and ends is almost
i n e ~ i t a b l eAnother
.~~ possible explanation is the tendency of security schol-
ars to treat national security goals as "given." One writer describes the situ-
ation as follows:

In the field of ... foreign policy studies it is possible - in fact mandatory -

to ask: "What goals do we want a foreign policy to accomplish?" But in
national security there is no parallel question. It is "given" that the goal
is to enhance security. An entire dimension of potential theorizing -
everything that concerns problems of multiple possible purposes - is
therefore nonexistent from its very root, in national security affaim41

There is something peculiarly un-Clausewitzian about studying military

force without devoting equal attention to the purposes for which it is used.
Clausewitz's famous dictum that war should be viewed as policy by other
means was meant to imply that military force should be understood in the
context of the purposes it serves.42
From the standpoint of the military threats to security that tended to
dominate the cold war era, the emphasis of security studies on military
statecraft was understandable, though not necessarily justifiable. In the
post-cold war era, however, many have suggested that nonmilitary threats
be included under the rubric of national security (see especially Allison and
Treverton). Many of these problems - for example, environmental protec-
tion, promoting human rights and democracy, promoting economic growth
- are not amenable to solution by military means. To the extent that this is
true, traditional security studies has little relevance.
The generation of scholars writing on security at the beginning of the cold
war not only defined national security in broader terms but also had a more
comprehensive view of the policy instruments by which it could be pursued.
Wolfers observed in 1952 that security "covers a range of goals so wide that
highly divergent policies can be interpreted as policies of security" and con-
cluded that although armaments were often relevant, some situations called
for "greater reliance on means other than coercive power."43 Lasswell, writing
in 1950, cautioned against "confounding defense policy with armament" and
argued that "our greatest security lies in the best balance of all instruments of
foreign policy, and hence in the coordinated handling of arms, diplomacy,
information, and economic^."^^ This broad view of the policy instruments rele-
vant to the pursuit of national security is likely to be more useful in the
post-cold war world than one that confines itself to military statecraft.
ILiItJ A I!) Security Studies 109

Domestic Affairs and Security

Although several of the authors reviewed here mention domestic concerns,

Peter G. Peterson argues in his essay "The Primacy of the Domestic Agenda"
(in Allison and Treverton) that American security is now threatened more by
domestic problems than by external military threats. Noting the legislative
mandate of the National Security Council, created in 1947, to establish a
forum for integrating "domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to
national security," Peterson contends that the domestic dimension of national
security tended to be neglected during the cold war years. Recalling the
National Security Council's early working definition of national security as
preservation of "the United States as a free nation with our fundamental insti-
tutions and values intact," he argues that American security is now less
endangered by military threats than by the crisis in education, an exploding
underclass, and underinvestment in productive capacity and infrastructure.
He calls upon those traditionally concerned with national security to broaden
their focus to include concern for such domestic threats.
Peterson's view of national security poses a severe challenge to a field
that has traditionally neglected domestic aspects of security. Indeed, to the
extent that domestic affairs have been considered at all, they have been
treated as sources of international conflict, as constraints on security policy,
or as partial determinants of security policy." They have not, however, been
treated as sources of threats to security.
The close relationship between traditional security studies and the realist
paradigm makes the possibility of incorporating domestic affairs especially
difficult. Realists have tended to emphasize the anarchic international system
rather than domestic affairs in their treatment of security issues. Similarly,
the recent tendency to label the field international security rather than
national security is likely to make it even harder to focus attention on the
domestic aspects of security. The alleged benefit of international security is
that it focuses attention on international interdependence and the security
dilemma in thinking about security issues.
Once again, the writings of scholars at the beginning of the cold war are
more in tune with Peterson's view of national security than are those by
today's security specialists. Writing in 1949, Dunn spoke of a "growing real-
ization" that a sharp distinction between domestic and international affairs
serves as a "serious obstacle to clear thinking" and pointed to a "general
tendency to reduce the line between 'international' and 'domestic."'"9rodie
in 1950 defended the idea of contracyclical manipulation of defense spend-
ing for the purpose of stabilizing the domestic economy.47 And Lasswell,
writing in the same year, sounds very much like I'eterson in warning against
"conceiving o f national security policy in terms of foreign divorced from
domestic policy" and in his call for "balancing the costs and benefits of all
policies in the foreign and domestic fields,"4x
In sum, the field of security studies seems poorly equipped to deal with
the post-cold war world, having emerged from the cold war with a narrow
1 10 Widening Security

military conception of national security and a tendency to assert its primacy

over other public policy goals. Its preoccupation with military statecraft
limits its ability to address the many foreign and domestic problems that are
not amenable to military solutions. In response, many of the authors reviewed
here have called for the development of new ways to think about inter-
national relations and national security.
For some authors, this impetus for reform of security studies stems from
the differences between the cold war era and its successor.49For others, the
failure to anticipate the nature or timing of the end of the cold war revealed
the deep-seated inadequacies not only of security studies but also of think-
ing about international relations and foreign policy more generally.50 One
might argue that it is unfair to single out security studies as bearing special
responsibility in this regard, since no scholarly approach or field of interest
proved more prescient than any other with respect to the surprise ending of
the cold war. For security studies, however, precisely the claim of special
expertise with respect to the cold war makes its failure to anticipate the end
so embarrassing. The cold war was not just another event to be analyzed;
rather, it was the progenitor of the field and its central focus from 1955 on.

Ill. Proposals for the Future

"Security studies as an academic field is in need of clarification," according

to Haftendorn. "What is to be studied, how is it to be studied, and how is
security studies to be distinguished from various subfields on the one hand
and international relations on the other?"51 Proposals for the future study
of security may be divided into three groups according to the degree of
reform they advocate.

Do Nothing

Not everyone agrees that reform is needed. For Mearsheimer, the essential
defining characteristic of international politics has been and remains a zero-
sum competition for military security. Whereas others may see a diminution
of military threats to security, he maintains that the end of the cold war does
not "mean that states will have to worry less about security than during the
Cold War" (Mearsheimer, in Allison and Treverton, 235).
For Walt, the end of the cold war expands the agenda of security stud-
ies to include post-cold war security arrangements and makes the study of
"grand strategy" more important; but it does not necessitate redefining the
scope of the field. The end of the cold war, he contends, "will keep security
issues on the front burner for some time to come."52

Modest Reform

Security Studies for the 1990s is based on the premise that reform of security
studies would have been in order even if the cold war had not ended.
I Security Studies 1I I

Accordmg to t h ~ svlew, the latter event s~mplymakes the case for such re-
forms more compellmg. Although some of the contrtbutors, espec~allyCharles
Kegley, Oran Young, and Edward Kolodz~e~, argue for radlcal reforms, most
concentrate on mlnor reforms consistent with the edltors' convent~onaldef-
lnltion of the subject a? "the threat, use and management of mhtary force, and
closely related toplcs" (p. 2).
The editors identify weaknesses in the "first-generation curriculum"
(1950-90) of security studies, including overemphasis on nuclear deterrence,
the United States, Europe, and the former Soviet Union and neglect of the
Third World, Asia, and nonmilitary instruments of policy. They then present
model syllabi for eleven courses, which are discussed by various commenta-
tors. The three syllabi emphasizing economic, environmental, and regional
aspects of security are the only ones that depart from the traditional security
studies orientation. The inclusion of the regional security syllabus by Kolodziej
is somewhat anomalous. since he clearlv, reiects
, the narrow traditional defin-
ition of security in favor of one broad enough to include domestic affairs,
economic issues, human rights, and more. The inclusion of courses on eco-
nomic and environmental aspects of security is in itself an innovation, of
course; but the proposed syllabi d o not depart significantly from conven-
tional views of security. The syllabus o n "environment and security," for
example, emphasizes such topics as environmental tools of warfare (herbi-
cides, for example), environmental side effects of warfare, and environmen-
tal disputes as causes of war.
Overall, Security Studies for the 1990s presents a view o f the field not
much different from the cold war version. What is needed, it suggests, is not
fundamental reorganization of the field but rather modest reform.

Radical proposals for reforming security studies include those that call for
broadening the focus o f the field and those that advocate reintegration of
security studies with the study of foreign policy and international politics.
Proposals for expanding the focus of security studies have been advanced
by numerous scholars, including Ullman, Ruzan, Haftendorn, Kolodziej, and
Kegley." Recognizing that threats to national survival or well-being are not
confined to the military realm, these proposals expand the notion of security
threats to include such matters as human rights, the environment, economics,
epidemics, crime, and social injustice.
These proposals are not necessarily tied to post-cold war developments.
Indeed, any serious attempt to explicate the concept of security is likely to
lead to a broader view - which may explain why traditional security spe-
cialists have usually avoided such exercises.j4 Reflections on the post-cold
war world, however; have increased the number of proposals for a broader
conception of security.
For those seeking an enhanced understanding of the multiple vulner-
abilities that beset hunlankind," expanding the focus of security studies is
1 12 Widening Security

clearly a step in the right direction. But from the standpoint of academic
disciplines - admittedly a matter of minor importance to nonacademics -
the advantages are less obvious. For to expand the scope of security studies
is to blur even further the barely distinguishable line between the subfield
of security studies and the main field of international relations and foreign
policy studies. As Klaus Knorr recognized two decades ago, "If we wanted
to study with equal emphasis all phenomena suggested by the term 'national
security,' we would have passed on to the study of foreign policy or inter-
national relations as a whole."j6
Perhaps the time has come to abolish the subfield of security studies and
"pass on" or, more accurately, return to the study of foreign policy and
international relations. In commenting on one of the syllabi in Security
Studies for the 1990s, Oran Young observes that "there is a strong case for
integrating international security studies into the broader curriculum on
international relations"(p. 351).j7
The following are the principal arguments on behalf of such a case.
1. It overlaps too much with the fields of international politics and foreign
policy. Although expanding the focus of security studies makes the problem
more obvious, there has never been a clear line between security studies and
international politics and foreign policy studies. War has always been a cen-
tral concern of international relations scholars; and national security policy,
including war as an instrument of statecraft, has been part of that concern
since 1940. Various scholars have noted the overlap, and none has been able
to draw a clear line between academic security studies and its parent fields of
foreign policy and international politics.5RThe intimate connection between
military force and foreign policy was clearly recognized before the "golden
age" of security studies began:

On the important matter of the necessary relation between armed force-

and policy, nothing in the profession of a soldier - not his training, his
tactics, his weapons, his code of war - and nothing in military policy of
any American command, from the battalion to the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
is without reference to policy. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as
a purely military matter."9

The basic concepts of security studies (for example, power, balance of

power, the security dilemma, limited war, and various concepts from deter-
rence theory) are covered in standard courses on international politics. And
it would be difficult to imagine a course on foreign policy that did not
include military policy (which cannot be said for foreign economic policy).
In American universities at least, the dominance of the realist paradigm
ensures that standard security studies topics will be covered.60
There is a certain irony in the fact that it is precisely the hard-core realist
security scholars who are in the weakest position to make the case for secur-
ity studies as a separate subfield. If one believes that military competition
among sovereign states is "the distinguishing feature of international politics"
!hi:ri Security Studies 1 13

(Mearsheimer, in Allison and Treverton, 214; emphasis added), then one

must assume that a well-designed course in international politics will focus
on many of the same topics as will a course in traditional security studies.
"Since Thucydides in Greece and Kautilya in India," asserts Kenneth Waltz,
"the use of force and the possibility of controlling it have been the preoccu-
pations of inter~lational-politicalstudies."" It is hard to make a case for the
study of military force as a subsidiary endeavor if one believes that this topic
should be the central focus of the principal field. Subfields, by definition, deal
with subtopics.
There is also a certain irony in the fact that the overlap is a natural peda-
gogical consequence of the teachings of two intellect~~al heroes of conventional
security studies - Clausewitz and Schelling. The pedagogical implication of
Clausewitz's famous dictum is that war should not he studied separately from
broader issues of foreign policy and international relations. When our think-
ing about war is divorced from our thinking about political life, he argued,
"we are left with something pointless and devoid of sense."" And Schelling
t a ~ ~ g us
h t to think about war and military strategy in the context of inter-
national bargaining processes in which conflict and cooperation are insepar-
able." The teachings of Clausewitz and Schelling provide arguments
for integrating the study of security with the study of foreign policy and inter-
national politics.
2. I t impedes policy sclcr~anie.Despite the commitment of most security
studies scholars to policy relevance, the field is severely handicapped with
respect to its ability to contribute to the broad debates on public policy likely
to characterize the p o s t ~ ~ o lwar
d world. These handicaps arise from its
treatment of both means and ends. That relating to means is the more fun-
damental because it is inherent in the definition of the field in terms of the
threat, use, and control of military force. Although some security problems
may be adequately addressed by comparing the pros and cons of various
types of military statecraft, most important problems involve consideration
of nonmilitary techniques of statecraft as well. Policymakers rarely define a
security problem as, We have these weapons; now what can we d o with
them? Rather, they ask, We have this problem; what means are available for
coping with it? Policymakers need help in evaluating the utility of all the
instruments available to them, including diplomacy, information, economic
statecraft, and military statecraft.
Consider the following question, which many security specialists would
view as central to the field: "Under what conditions should states employ
military force a n d for what p u r p o ~ e s ? " ~ ~
he answer is that states
should employ military force when its prospective utility exceeds that of
alternative techniques of statecraft. The problenl is that this can be deter-
mined only by comparing the costs and benefits of alternative techniques of
statecraft with those of military force. Those who confine themselves to the
study of one type of statecraft are logically incapable of judging the utility
of that type of statecraft for any problem with respect to which other types
of statecraft are potentially relevant."
1 14 Widening Security

Hedley Bull recognized this problem in his famous defense of strategic


No doubt strategists are inclined to think too readily in terms of military

solutions to the problems of foreign policy and to lose sight of the other
instruments that are available. But this is the occupational disease of any
specialist, and the remedy for it lies in entering into debate with the spe-
cialist and correcting his perspe~tive.~"

Bull's proposed "remedy," however, depends on the willingness and capabil-

ity of others to correct the military bias of the security ~pecialist.~'In today's
context this passage would seem to suggest that subfields other than security
studies bear the responsibility for correcting the military bias in security stud-
ies. There are, however, no other subfields defined in terms of techniques of
statecraft: the subfield of foreign policy studies is not defined in terms of
diplomacy, and international political economy is not defined in terms of eco-
nomic statecraft. What is needed is a field of specialization that subsumes the
study of all types of statecraft, for example, traditional foreign policy studies.
With respect to ends, the handicaps of conventional security studies are
real but not inherent. The tendency to assert the primacy of national security
and the consequent resistance to thinking in terms of trade-offs between secur-
ity and other goals impedes policy-relevant debate, but this is a correctable
defect. All that is required is a return to the view that marginal utility analy-
sis is relevant to judging the importance of security relative to other goals.
Another significant but remediable handicap is the tendency to treat
goals as given and to accept the framework of assumptions within which
policymakers define security problems.68 In the post-cold war world it is
precisely this framework of assumptions that needs to be reassessed. There
is no inherent reason why those who study military force must accept the
outlook of those who use it. Witness the example of the peace researchers.
Reintegrating the study of the threat, use, and control of military force
with traditional foreign policy analysis would facilitate both the assessment
of the utility of military statecraft and the comparison of security with other
policy goals. Policy relevance would thereby increase.
3. It is mislabeled. Unless one is willing to argue that military threats to
national well-being are the only ones that matter, it is difficult to justify
labeling the study of the threat, use, and control of military force as "secur-
ity studies." This cannot be dismissed as merely a semantic problem. Con-
notations have consequences, and for the last forty years the consequence
of designating something as a security issue has been synonymous with
asserting its relative importance. High politics implies low politics; vital
interests imply nonvital interests; and important issues imply unimportant
issues. "National security" is therefore not just another label; it is a power-
ful political symbol. This has been well understood for a long time. In 1952
Wolfers pointed out that "any reference to the pursuit of security is likely to
ring a sympathetic And in 1993 Shultz, Godson, and Greenwood
1 I Security Studies 115

noted that "everyone agrees that 'security issues' are important and deserving
of national prominence and financial support" (p. I)."'
It is precisely because "everyone agrees" that security issues are import-
ant that they should not be consigned to a separate subfield. Although
some subfields are more important than others, n o other academic disci-
pline contains a subfield designated, in effect, "the study of important
4. Security is too broad. As a theoretical concept, "security" is too broad
to define a subfield. Broad analytical concepts, such as power, interdepend-
ence, welfare, cooperation, conflict, public interest, and securit); are relevant
to all subfields of international relations and should be the special province of
none. Buzan rightly points o ~ ithat
t the concept of security is broad enough to
integrate the fields of international relations theory, international political
economy, area studies, peace studies, human rights, development studies,
international history, and so forth.-l It is precisely for this reason, however,
that it should not be used to delineate a single subfield. Lasswell understood
the broad applicability of the concept, which prompted his observation that
"there are no experts on national security. There are only experts on aspects
of the problem."-.'
The third and fourth arguments outlined above, concerning the misla-
beling of the field and the breadth of the concept of security, are based on
the assumption that both the label and the concept are important to secur-
ity studies scholars. To the extent that such scholars are willing t o give up
both the label and the claim of special expertise with respect to the security
problematique, those arguments would be nullified. Renaming the field as
"military studies," "war studies," or something similar, however, would not
affect the first or second arguments discussed above.
If reintegration of security studies into the broader curriculum of foreign
policy and international politics is desirable, why not apply similar logic to
other subfields, such as international political economy (IPE)?The answer to
this question is instructive. If the rationale for subfields is to ensure that
important subtopics are not neglected, the emergence of IPE as an identifiable
suhfield during the 1970s was justified by - and a reaction to - the wide-
spread neglect of the topic by international relations scholars during the
1950s and 1960s.-"o the extent that the larger field focuses on the politico-
economic aspects of international relations, the rationale for a subfield of IPE
is weakened. In principle, then, one can well imagine a situation in which the
arguments for reintegration of security studies would apply, mutatis mutan-
dis, to IPE. If the dominant paradigm for the study of international relations
were Marxist-Leninist, for example, one might well argue that a subfield of
lIIE was unnecessary on the grounds that it overlapped too much with the
main field of study. Under such circumstances, one might argue that a sub-
field of security studies is needed in order to ensure that politico-n~ilitary
aspects of the subject are not neglected. The case for the traditional subfield
of security studies is strongest when realism is not the dominant paradigm. It
is paradoxical that traditional security studies flourished during the cold war,
1 16 Widening Security

when realism was at its apogee and the rationale for the subfield would seem
to have been weakest.
It is sometimes argued that the existence of security studies as a sub-field
is justified by the continuing importance of war and military strategy in
human affairs. The question here, however, is how, not whether, to study
war and military strategy. The reintegration of such topics into the study of
international politics and foreign policy would not put academic security
specialists out of work. It would, however, set their work in a broader con-
text that would increase its relevance to the post-cold war world.

IV. Conclusion

The emergence of security studies as an identifiable subfield of international

relations was closely related to the cold war. Interest in the field tended to
rise and fall with cold war tensions, and the substantive focus of the field
tended to be dominated by cold war issues. Is there a role for security stud-
ies now that the cold war is over? The answer to that question depends
partly on one's view of the state of the subfield and partly on one's vision
of the post-cold war world.
The vision of the post-cold war world presented by many of the con-
tributors to the books under review is one in which nonmilitary foreign and
domestic threats to American security have increased in importance, even
as external military threats have decreased in importance. As a means of
pursuing national security, military force is viewed as less useful than it used
to be, though certainly not irrelevant. Some call explicitly, others implicitly,
for a fundamental reexamination of the theories, concepts, and assumptions
used to study national security during the cold war.
The purpose of this review has been to lay the groundwork for such a
reexamination by contrasting the study of national security at the beginning
of the cold war with security studies at its end, by evaluating the relevance
of contemporary security studies to the new world order, and by laying out
a wide range of proposals for reforming security studies. The world of the
1990s is not the world of 1945-55, but some of the modes of thought, pol-
icy concerns, concepts of security, and discussions of statecraft developed
during that period appear more relevant to the post-cold war era than those
bequeathed to us by the cold war. Scholars searching for ways to think
about security problems in the 1990s may find it useful to consult the writ-
ings of this older generation of scholars. The answers to today's problems
are not t o be found there, but some of the right questions are.

The author would like to thank the following scholars for helpful comments on earlier drafts
of this review article: Richard Betts, Robert 0. Keohane, Edward A. Kolodziej, Robert Jervis,
Edward Mansfield, Helen V. Milner, Jack Snyder, and Oran Young.
I Security Studies I 17


I . Charles W. Keglc): Jr., "The Neoidealist M o m e n t in I n t e r l ~ . ~ r ~ o Studies? nal Realist Myths

~ n the d New I n t e r n i ~ t ~ o n Studic5,"
al It~terimtronulSttctlics Q I I I I Y ~37 C ~(June
I ~ 19931, 1 4 1.
2. See e\peci,~ll>the c o n t r i h u t ~ o n sby Ernest R. May, Raymond I.. Garthoif, a n d Robert
Jervis In Hogdn; the essays b y Peter <;. Peterson, Gregory F. T'revrrron, a n d Barbara A. Kicksler
in A l l ~ s o na n d Treverton; and (;acidly, Thr Utrrted States m i l t l ~ ckrrd of'the Cold Wczr.
3 . See c s p e c ~ ~ ~the l l ) c < ) n t r ~ h u t i i ~by
n \ K ~ ~ l a Stccl
l d . ~ n dKc~lwrtJervis in H o g , ~ n ;C;~ddl\;
and ~ i i o s tof the essnys in Allison m d Treverton.
4 . In order t o niakr the suhlect nl,tn,~geahle, this review c ~ ~ - t i cfocii\es le o n security studies
in the United St'ttes. This s h o ~ i l dnor he ~nterpreteda s implying t h , ~ timportant wol-k war nor
d o n e in other part5 o f the world.
5. See, tor example, Gene C1. Lyons a n d LOUISMorton, S~-/J~JO/S t ; ~ rStnrtcgy: Fdlrc-otlr~rr
irnd Rewirrc-b in N,ztrord See-lrrrt)!Affilirs ( N e w York: Freder~ckA. Praegcr, 1965); P.G. Bock
and klorron K e ~ - k o w ~ t z"The , Emerging Field of Narion,~l Security," World Politic-s I')
(Octoher 1966), 122; Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Sean M . I.ynn-Jones, "lnternat~onal Secur~ty
S t u d w : A Report ot ,I Conference o n the State of the Field," I~rtt~rii~~trotrrrl Secrtrlty I 2 (Spring
1988), 8; a n d R i c h ~ r i lSmoke, "National Security Aftairs," in Fred I. G r e e n s t e ~ na n d N e l w n
W. I'olsh); eds., HLzird0ook of I'~~litrc-~r/ .\"~im(-c,vol. 8, I ~ t t i ~ ~ n ~ z tPolltr~s
~ o t r ~ ~(Reading,
l MJSS.:
Addison-Wesley, 197.5). Smoke J . ~ t e \the emergence of the field from the m1J-19.5Os. with its
concern ,lbout lirn~tcdw,lr ,und the massive retaliation doctrine.
6. Will~arnT.K. Fox, "Inter\vi~rInternational Relations Kese.lrch: The A n i e r i c ~ nExperience,"
World I'olit~cs2 (October 19491.
7. Wright, A Strril~,o f W'lr, 2 d ed. ( C h ~ c a g oU : n i l c r s ~ t yot < hicLigo I'rcss, 196.5).
8. W~lli'irn T.R. box, " A hliddle Western I s o l a t i o n i s t - l n t e r ~ ~ i ~ t ~ o n a lJourney ist's toward
Ilelev,lncc," in Joseph Kruzel 'ind J,lmes N. Ilosenau, eds., /olrrtrcy t h r o u ~ l\Vorld ~ Polit~c-3:
Arrto~~iogrirphl<-~~/ ~~~~~~~~~tioifs of 'Thi?t~~-fortr 7 ? i r r ~ ~ /(rI ?rulngton,
Ai-'~ii~~'r.wtie- ~ Mass.: 1xuingto11
Books, 1 9891, 2.36; e n ~ p h a s ~ins o r l g ~ n a l .
9. Ihid., 237-38.
10. 1.yonc .lnd Xlorton ( i n . i ) , 37; <;rayson Kirk a n d Rich,~rdStehhins, W'rr m t l Nr~t~otri~l
I'olri-y: A Syllabrrs ( N e w York: t a r r . ~ r,lncl Reinhart, 19421; a n d H'lrold Sprout and M,lrgarer
S p r o ~ ~eds.,
t, l - o ~ ~ i ~ d ~ofz tNLrtiotld
~ ~ ~ r ~ sI'OWCI.:Rel~Jiizgs1111 lVor/d I'o/ltics 'znd Arttcwrirr~
Secxrity ( P r ~ n c c t o n I'ri~lcrton
: University I'ress, I94.i), ix.
I I. Sprout a n d Sprout ( h . 10). O n e i n d i c ~ t o of r the Impact of 1111shook is that the second
e d ~ t i o n(19.51) serve\ as the b a s ~ creterencc polnt for d~scussingthe idea of " n a t i o n ~ lpower"
in a texthook o n ~ i ~ ~ t i o sccurlt) nal prepared for We\t IJoinr c ~ d e t \- long after the Sprouts
themselves had r e p ~ ~ d i a t etheir d earl~el-~ p p r o a c ht o a n a l y z ~ n gpower. See Amos A. l o r d a n ,
Willi,~mJ. Taylor, Ir., m d I.awrence J . Korb, Atrreria~tl Natiorr~lSrcrtrrty: Pollry m d Proccss.
4th ed. (l~.llt~rnore: ,john\ Hopkins IJn~ver\ityPre\s, 199.31, 10; a n d Harold Sprout a n d
M,lrg,~retSprout, 7 b r Eco1ogi~-'11I'c~rspc,c-ticvotr Hllttrirrt A f / ~ ~ r WTrth s : Spccwl Krferc~trc~e to
Intrrncztronal Polrtlcs (I'rinceton: Prit~cctonlin~versityPress, 196 51, 2 1711.
I?. I<.g., Smoke (fn. S ) , 275-87; l y o n \ . ~ n dhlorton ( t n . i); a n d M a r c Trachtenherg,
"Strc~tegicT h o ~ i g h In t An1er1c.1, 19.57- 1966," Polit~c-'11 Si-rcvrcc,Q ~ ~ ~ r r t104 ~ r l(Sunimer
y 1989).
1.3. For a s ~ m p l i n gof r h ~ \liter,~turc,see Willi,~m T.R. Fox, "<:ivil-hlil~tary RelL~rions
Research: T h e SSRC: C o n i m ~ t t e ea n d It\ Research Survey," LV(~rle1Polrtics h (J,~nu,iry19i41.
14. IhrJ., 279.
IS. Grayson K ~ r k , 7.11~,Stl~tf?'of IntertzrrtiotrLl/ Relcltroirs rn Amcricizrr (:o//egcs irrrd
Uwi~wsitrcs( N e w York: Chuncil o n Foreign Rcl,itions, 1'147).
16. For d e u i l s o n the te,lch~ng.ind rese'irch programs ~t Yalr, Princeton, ( h l u m h i a , and
C:hic,~go during t h ~ sp e r ~ o d .w e l yon5 a n d Morton (fn. 51, 127-44; a n d William T.R. Fox,
"Freder~ck Sherwood Dunri . ~ i ~rhe d Americar~ S t u d ! of fnrer~l,~rronalRelations," World
Polrfrc-s IS (Octoher 1 9 6 2 ) . T h e SSKC Cornn~lttecW.IS origin,~llycalled the Committee o n
Civil-M~liti~ry R e l ~ t i o n sRese,lrch, but this w ~ Inter s ch.~nged t o the Committee o n Narion.11
Security Policy ReseLirch.
17. Kern,ird B r o d ~ e ,"Str,itegy ,is .I S c ~ e i ~ c e ,World " Po/r/rc-s I (,luly 1949), 4 7 7 .
1 18 Widening Security

18. For examples of these recurrent themes, see Brodie (fn. 17); idem, National Security
and Economic Stability, Memorandum no. 33 (New Haven: Yale Institute of International
Studies, January 2, 1950); Arnold Wolfers, "'National Security' as an Ambiguous Symbol,"
Political Science Quarterly 67 (December 1952); Frederick S. Dunn, "The Present Course of
International Relations Research," World Politics 2 (October 1949); and Harold D. Lasswell,
National Security and Individual Freedom (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950).
19. Two recent reviews of the evolution of security studies ignore or make only passing
reference to the contributions of such major figures as Wright, Wolfers, Fox, the Sprouts, Dunn,
Lasswell, Earle, and Spykman. Stephen M. Walt, "The Renaissance of Security Studies,"
International Studies Quarterly 35 (June 1991); and Helga Haftendorn, "The Security Puzzle:
Theory-Building and Discipline-Building in International Security," International Studies
Quarterly 35 (March 1991).
20. Walt (fn. 19); and Colin Gray, Strategic Studies and Public Policy: The American
Experience (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1982).
21. Walt (fn. 19), 214.
22. See Smoke (fn. 5); Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (New York:
St. Martin's Press, 1981); Fred Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1983); and Trachtenberg (fn. 12).
23. See, for example, Smoke (fn. 5); and Walt (fn. 19).The most enduring contribution of the
"golden age" was Thomas C. Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1960). Although concerned with nuclear strategy, Schelling stressed the applicability of his
analysis to a broader set of actors and problems, including foreign aid, tariff bargaining, child
rearing, taxi driving, investing in the stock market, tax collecting, house buying and selling, vot-
ing, playing charades, striking, price wars, traffic jams, kidnapping, daylight savings, etiquette,
Lot's wife, and selecting Miss Rheingold.
24. Kolodziej, "What Is Security and Security Studies? Lessons from the Cold War, " Arms
Control13 (April 1992), 2.
25. Walt (fn. 19), 215; Smoke (fn. S), 3 0 3 4 ; Nye and Lynn-Jones (fn. S), 9; and Trachtenberg
(fn. 12), 332.
26. Gray (fn. 20), 90. See also Smoke (fn. S), 304-5.
27. See Jaap Nobel, ed., The Coming of Age of Peace Research: Studies in the Development
of a Discipline(Groningen, The Netherlands: STYX Publications, 1991).
28. Richard Smoke, National Security and the Nuclear Dilemma: An lntroduction to the
American Experience in the Cold War, 3d ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), 328.
29. Walt (fn. 19). Walt also portrays the "renaissance" as characterized by a commitment
to more rigorous scholarly standards. Although he notes that much work on security topics
fails to meet basic scholarly standards and "should be viewed as propaganda rather than ser-
ious scholarship," he concentrates his review of the field on works that do "meet the standards
of logic and evidence in the social sciences" (p. 213). He concludes, not surprisingly, that the
field is doing quite well by social science standards. For a cogent critique of Walt's view of
security studies, see Edward A. Kolodziej, "Renaissance in Security Studies? Caveat Lector!"
International Studies Quarterly 36 (December 1992).
30. Haftendorn (fn. 19).
31. On the militarization of American security policy, see the essays by Allison and
Treverton, Peterson, and Treverton and Bicksler, in Allison and Treverton; the essay by May
in Hogan; and Richard H. Ullman, "Redefining Security," International Security 8 (Summer
32. See Allison and Treverton; and Joseph J. Romm, Defining National Security: The
Nonmilitary Aspects (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1993).
33. Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley,
1979), 126.
34. Smoke (fn. 5), 248; emphasis in original.
35. This is not to suggest that the authors of these passages actually advocate unlimited
defense spending. The relevant question is whether the logic of such passages provides any justi-
fication for a limit.
3 6 . F.ven concelvlng of security as ,I matter of degree seems t o he difficult for some security
spec~~ilists. See Barry Kuzan, P ~ r ~ p /States
c, and Fear: An A ~ w ~ d fori z Intemntiona/ Serrrrlt]~
Sttrdics I?? the Post-(;old War t.rrz. 2 d ed. (Boulder, Colo.: L.ynne Kienner, 1991). Rumn asserts
t "word itself ~ m p l ~ e;Ins absolute condition ... a n d doe\ not lend itself t o the idea ot a
t h ~ the
graded spectrum like that which f ~ l l sthe space between hot and cold" (p. 18). And K l ~ u Knorrs
notes that h ~ tre,ltment
\ of security threats as matters of degree "causes a lot of c o n c e p t ~ ~ , i l
uneasiness" for other scholars. Knol-I; "Economic Interdependence ,lnd National Secur~ty," in
I(lC~ul\ K n o r r .1nc1 P,-.~nkN. 'T'r.lp,cr, c d ~ . ,I ' c - o r z < , n z r c I s s r r c s i z ~ z dN ' r t r < m a l Security ( I .xwrcncc:
Regents Press of Kansas, 1977), 1811.
17. E.g., D u n n (fn. 18); Wolfers (hi. 18); 1,asswell (fn. 18); and Brodie (fnn. 17, 18).
Ijefrnse economl$r\, of course, have usually shared this view. 7 h 1 r voices, however, were more
t securlty studies during the "golden age" t h a n during the 1980s. See Charles J. H ~ t c h ,
s a l ~ e n in
" N a r ~ o n a lSecur~r)P o l ~ c yas a Field tor Econonlics R e ~ e ~ ~ r c h\VorId, " I'olrtrcs 1 2 (April 1960);
Charles J. Hitch a n d Roland McKean, The Econonri~-sof Drfcnsr in the N~rrlear Agc~
(C:amhridge: Harv.11-d University Press, 1960); and James R. Schles~nger,The Politicul Ecol~oilry
of Nrrtional Seurity ( N e w York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1960). Walt's (fn. 1 9 ) recent revietv, for
example, pays scant atrentlon t o the views of defense economtsts.
38. Walt (fn. 191, 1 1 2 ; rmph,isis in original. Walt's definition of the field is puzzling, since
he had c r i t ~ c i ~ ethe d tendency t o define security wlely In m ~ l i t ~ l rterms
y in a n e r ~ r l ~ puhlica-
tion. Stephen hl. W ~ l t ,"The Search for a Science of Strategy," Intert~ntionalSecurity I 2
(Summer 1987), 159-64.
39. For other reviews of the field that e m p h a s i ~ em i l m r y force as a means rather than secur-
ity as an end, see KLius Knorr, "National Security Studies: Scope and Structure of the Field," in
Frank N. Trager and Philip S. Kronenherg, eds., Nntlonirl Seczwity anti Atnerzcan Society: T!~rory
Process, m d Policy ( L ~ w r e n c eIlnivers~ty
: Press of Kan\as, 197.3); .lnd Nye and Lynn-Jones (fn. 5 ) .
40. See Kernal-d Brodie, W l r irrtti Polltics ( N e w York: Macrii~llan,1 9 7 3 ) , chap. 8.
41. Snioke ifn. 2 8 ) . 3 3 0 . See also Snioke (fn. i ) , 2.59.
42. See the interpretive css,lys hy Bernard B r o d ~ e ,Petel- I ' , I I - ~ ~ ,a n d Michael H o w a r d , 111
Carl von C l a u s c w ~ t / ,O n Wnr (Princeton: Princeton Universit) Press, 1 9 7 6 ) .
43. Wolters (tn. 18). 484. 502.
44. I.asswell (fn. 1 X), 75.Recent interest In "grand strategy" a m o n g security s p e c ~ a l ~ shrls rs
expanded the term t o ~ n c l u d ed~plornacyas well as milit,iry means, hut economic statecraft and
information remalt1 neglected. On this point, see W ~ l (fn. t 19); 'ind Kolodziej (fn. 29). 4 3 4 .
4.5, Nye a n d 1.ynt1-Jones (in. S),24; .ind Walt (fn. 191, 21.5, 224.
4 6 . I 1 ~ 1 n n( i n . 1 X), 83.
47. Krodie (fn. 18).
4 8 . Lasswell (fn. 18), 55, 75.
4 9 . See the essays hy Allison a n d Treverton, Peterson, May, Michael Rorrus a n d J o h n
Zysman, a n d Schell~ng,in Allison a n d Treverton; see Shulrz, Godson, a n d Greenwood; and see
the e s u y by J e r v ~ s ,In Hogan.
50. See Gaddis; a n d the esa,Iys by G a d d ~ as n d Ronald Steel, In Hogan. See also J o h n Lewis
G a d d ~ s "Internat~on,d
, Relations Theory 'ind the End of the Cold War," Internationc~lScotrlty
1 7 (Winter 1992-93); a n d K o l o d ~ ~ (fn. e l 29).
5 1 . Hafrcndorn (fn. 191, 15.
51. Walt (fn. 191, 225-27.
53. Ullnian (fn. 3 1 ) ; Buzan (in. 36); Haftendorn (fn. 19); Kolodz~el(in. 29); and Kegley,
"Discusswn," in Shultr., Godson, a n d Greenwood, 73-76.
54. O n this polnt, see B u ~ , l n(fn. 361, .3-12. Recent r e v i e w ot the field by Nye and 1.ynn-
Jones (fn. 5 ) a n d Walt (fn. 191, for cxarnple, d o n o t attempt t o d c f ~ n ethe concept of securit).
Although many ot the contributors t o Scc-wity Studies rtr t / ~ cI ')9Os allude t o the debate a h o ~ ~ t
alternative c o n c e p t ~ ~ ~ l l i z a t i oof~ lthe
s field, none of the ele\.en course syllabi includes the
f a n i o ~ ~article
s by Wolters (fn. I X ) o n the concept of n.~tion.ll securlty.
55. I-larold Sprout and Margaret Sprout, Mrrltiple Vrrlnefiil~ilit~c~s: The Cortt~xtof 1:il~~ir-
orrnrcwtd Reparr atid Kcsorrrrc3, Research Monograph no. 4 0 (Pr~nceton:Center of Intern,~r~onal
S t u d ~ e s Pr~nceron
, LJniversity, 1974).
120 Widening Security

56. Knorr (fn. 39), 6.

57. Kolodziej (fn. 29) warns against consigning security studies to "a ghetto within the acad-
emy" and suggests that such studies be integrated into "as inclusive a spectrum of disciplinary
units as possible" (pp. 436-37). On "reintegrating" strategic thought "into the mainstream of
the theory of international politics," see also Laurence Martin, "The Future of Strategic Studies,"
Journal of Strategic Studies 3 (December 1980), 91-99.
58. E.g., Lyons and Morton (fn. 5); Bock and Berkowitz (fn. 5);Smoke (fn. 5); Knorr (fn. 39);
and Haftendorn (fn. 19).
59. William Yandell Elliott et al., United States Foreign Policy: Its Organization and Control
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1952), 159. This view of foreign policy would be broad
enough to include even tank tactics, which are specifically excluded from the purview of secur-
ity studies by Nye and Lynn-Jones (fn. 5), 7; and Smoke (fn. 5), 251.
60. On the dominance of realism in courses, see Hayward R. Alker and Thomas J. Biersteker,
"The Dialectics of World Order: Notes for a Future Archaeologist of International Savoir Faire,"
International Studies Quarterly 28 (June 1984); and Alfredo C. Robles, Jr., "How International
Are International Relations Syllabi?" PS 26 (September 1993), 526-28.
61. Waltz (fn. 33), 186.
62. Clausewitz (fn. 42), 605.
63. Schelling (fn. 23); and idem, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press,
64. Walt (fn. 19), 226.
65. For discussion of the logic of evaluating techniques of statecraft, see David A. Baldwin,
Economic Statecraft (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985).
66. Bull, "Strategic Studies and Its Critics," World Politics 20 (July 1968), 599-600. Bull's
concept of strategic studies is roughly equivalent to the conventional American view of security
studies in terms of the threat, use, and control of military force.
67. In fairness to Bull, it should be noted that he was opposed to separating strategic stud-
ies from the wider study of international relations.
68. On this point, see Walt (fn. 19); Kolodziej (fn. 29); and Samuel P. Huntington, "Recent
Writings in Military Politics: Foci and Corpora," in Huntington, ed., Changing Patterns of
Military Politics (Glencoe, 111.: Free Press, 1962), 240. As early as 1949, Dunn (fn. 18) noted
this tendency and expressed concern about allowing "the consumers of research, and especially
the governmental decision-makers, to determine the questions on which academic researchers
shall work" (p. 84).
69. Wolfers (fn. 18), 481.
70. For other studies referring to national security as a symbol of importance, see Buzan
(fn. 36), 19, 370; and Brodie (fn. 40).
71. Although it could be argued that American scholars were simply following standard
governmental terminology, even this justification may disappear. President Clinton's National
Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement (Washington, D.C.: White House, July
1994) emphasizes economic prosperity, population growth, environmental degradation, mass
migration of refugees, narcotics trafficking, and promoting democracy, as well as traditional
military concerns.
72. Buzan (fn. 36), 372.
73. Lasswell (fh. 18), 55-56.
74. Susan Strange, "International Economics and International Relations: A Case of
Mutual Neglect," International Affairs 46 (April 1970), 304-15.
Identity and Security: Buzan and the Copenhagen School
Bill McSweeney

Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: A n Agenda for I.nternat~onal

Secunty Studzes zn the Post-Cold W a r Era, Hemel Hempstedd,
Harvester, 2nd edn, 199 1.
Ole Waever et al. (eds.), European Polyphor~y:Perspectzves beyond East
West Confrontatmn, London, Macm~llan,1990.
Barry Buzan et al., T h e t u r o p e a n Securzty Order Recast: Scenarms for
the Post-Cold W a r Era, London, Pmter, 1990.
Ole Waever et al., Identzty, Mlgratron and the N e w Securzty Agenda ln
Europe, London, Pinter, 1993.

ince the publication in 1983 of the first edition of People, States and
Fear, Barry Buzan's work has established itself - for European scholars,
at least - as the canon and indispensable reference point for students of
security. His book and the revisions of the second edition (1991) have been the
stimulus for further exploration of the security problenl at the Centre for Peace
and Conflict Kesearch in (;openhagen. Together with Kuzan, the collaborators
have produced several publications on the security theme, sufficiently inter-
related to warrant the collective shorthand, the 'Copenhagen school' of secur-
ity studies.
The revision of security studies, which Buzan announced in 1983, has
taken a new turn with a recent publication by the Copenhagen school. The
need to refine the concept of security and to focus greater attention on 'social
identity' appears to have emerged more from the pressure of events suggest-
ing a move in this direction than from particular doubts previously ex-
pressed at the theoretical level. With Buzan as a principal contributor, the
new thinking is set out in the recent publication of Waever et a/.' Since
Buzan has shared authorship of a new direction of his initial project, it
merits scrupulous attention by all who have spent the last decade reading
and teaching l'rople, States and Fear and, in Ken Booth's words, 'writing
footnotes to it'.?
Source: Kerww of Strriitcs, 221 1 ) ( 1996): X 1-93
122 Widening Security

At first glance, the new emphasis on society and identity answers the
main body of criticism levelled at Buzan's inability, arising from his con-
ceptual model giving ontological primacy to the state, to accord significance
or autonomy to human beings as an object of security and to the sub-state
groups to which they belong3 His collaboration in the abandonment of state
primacy shifts the weight of his contribution to security studies - and his
reputation - to this later joint publication.
Another factor that will contribute to its appeal and influence is its focus
on societal identity as the core value vulnerable to threats and in need of
security. Identity had been a fashionable preoccupation of social scientists for
many decades prior to its emergence in the media as the major cause of upheaval
in central and eastern Europe and the source of resistance to integration in the
European Union. Waever et al. have thus given an old idea a new angle in dis-
course on international affairs. Identity is a good thing, with a human face
and ephemeral character which make it at once appealing and difficult to
grasp. From the pens of scholars who aim to situate their work in the neore-
alist tradition, it betokens a break with the image of that hard-bitten class
which formerly consigned identity to the category of soft concepts suitable
for novelists and sociologists.
The analysis of collective identity can be approached from a deconstruc-
tionist, sociological angle, which focuses on the processes and practices by
which people and groups construct their self-image. O r it can be approached
from the more common objectivist viewpoint, similar to that adopted in respect
of the state in Buzan (1991). Waever et al. appear unsure and to want to
have a foot in each camp. The discussion setting out their basic approach
is obscured by uneven and sometimes slippery language, suggesting some
doubts as to the force of their argument and the degree of continuity of
approach with Buzan (1991). There are passages that suggest the decon-
structionist agenda, but these are radically at odds with the bulk of the work
which remains firmly objectivist, indeed realist.
In this paper, I examine critically the authors' central concepts of society
and societal security, and offer an alternative understanding of identity which
has implications for security. Finally, an assessment will be made of the con-
tinuity of Waever et al. with the seminal work of Buzan.

Society and Societal Security

The societal dimension which was subordinated to the state in People, States
and Fear, is retained by Waever et al. as a sector of the state, but also given a
new status as an object of security in its own right. There is now 'a duality of
state security and societal security, the former having sovereignty as its ultim-
ate criterion, and the latter being held together by concerns about identity'.4
This elevation of society to the level of an independent object of security
is the major shift in thinking which provides the core of the argument. It is
the security of society, as distinct from that of the state, and in interaction
' i i t Buzan in Copenhagen 123

with it, which focuses attention throughout. What is meant by 'society' and
'societal security'?
It is clear that the term 'society' is not meant to connote a process of
negotiation, affirmation and reproduction, or even to embrace the 'system of
interrelationships which connects together the individuals who share a com-
mon culture', in a more traditional sociological formula.' Such a definition
leaves as a n open question the extent to which individuals in fact share a
common culture. Waever et al. prefer a less fluid reality: 'a clustering of insti-
tutions combined with a feeling of common id en tit^'.^ It is an objectivist,
Durkheimian conception, as they acknowledge. In fact, throughout the book,
their concept of society loses all touch with fluidity and process, resulting in
a near-positivist conception of identity.

The key to society is that set of ideas and practices that identify individ-
uals as members of a social group. Society is ahozit identity, about the
self conception of communities and of individuals identifying then~selves
as members of a community.-

In a more tellmg passage by a d~fferentco-author, we are left In no doubt

that the value to be secured under the r u b r ~ cof 'soc~etalsecur~ty'IS soc~etal

If it is societies that are the central focus of this new security problem-
atique, then it is the issues of identity and migration that drive the under-
lying perceptions of threats and vulnerabilities. Societies are fundamentally
about identity8

The point is laboured: 'societal security concerns the ability of a society to per-
sist in its essential character under changing conditions ...'' Both 'society' and
'identity' are here projected as objective realities, out there to be discovered
and analyzed. If, then, 'the purpose of this book is to examine the agenda o f
societal insecurity', we can take it that other components of society, and other
values which that collectivity of individuals and social groups hold in esteem,
are of little significance to the task in hand.
The authors are clear that the intention is not to humanize the concept
of security in line with 'those theorists whose search for an alternative to
state security leads them to individual security . . . ' l o The reason that indi-
viduals and social groups are not the object of the study is similar to that
given in Buzan (1991): it we are to avoid methodological individualism, we
must treat society as a 'reality of its own', in Durkheimian fashion, 'not to
be reduced to the individual level'."
Who speaks for the state? The question which poses itself in relation to
the state-centric approach of People, States and Fcar arises with renewed
force in the new formulation of the problem: Who speaks for society? 'Whose
security?' now leads back to a prior question: 'Whose identity is to be
secured?' To their credit, the authors raise the same question themselves in
124 Widening Security

presenting some counter-arguments to their approach in their final chapter.

Referring to the legitimacy of societal security claims, they acknowledge:

Anyone can speak on behalf of society, claiming that a security problem

has appeared. When should this be taken seriously?12

It depends on what they mean by 'seriously'. There are three different stages
in interpreting identity claims and taking them 'seriously' with respect to
security. The first two are the familiar, strictly empirical, problems relating
to the extent and intensity of beliefs. The third is more a philosophical prob-
lem, which will be addressed below. It suffices for the moment to note that the
authors never move beyond the first stage and seldom address even that as a
serious problem. Their work begins and remains at a level of reification which
excludes discussion of these questions of process. Even allowing that they
work on a very wide canvas where detail is inevitably sacrificed to the overall
picture, the general lack of concern with these fundamental methodological
questions is disturbing. It shows in the ambiguity of their thesis.
In a puzzling retrospective comment, the authors reject the charge of
reification on the grounds that their main interest is not in what increases or
decreases security, but in the process of defining security threats.I3 But this
and similar reflections are far from clear, are contradicted by several others,
and are impossible to match with the treatment of 'society' and 'identity' in
the book they have actually written. They would appear to undermine the
authors' entire work. If they were truly concerned with the process of social
construction, they could not regard society as 'a social agent which has an
independent reality'14 (as they do) and they would have to conduct the analy-
sis at the sub-social level (which they emphatically reject). Despite the dis-
claimers, they do in fact view society as an 'independent variable',15 a social
fact immune to process inquiry, whose values and vulnerabilities are as objec-
tive as those of the state.
Their response to their own question as to when security claims (and this
implies identity claims) should be taken seriously is, unhelpfully, 'In hind-
sight'. Only hindsight will reveal 'how much legitimacy an actor does have
when trying to speak on behalf of society ... [Actors] become consequential
on a political scale only when society actively backs them up . . . ' I 6 Whether
in hindsight or in foresight, the problem remains the rudimentary one of our
conception of society as process or as object. How do we know when society
'actively backs them up'? We cannot unravel the concept of society in action
by appealing to the same problematic concept in hindsight.

The Problem of Identity

We must ask why the authors choose identity from among the countless
values which people are concerned about and which can be attributed to the
collectivity of society, thus coming under the umbrella of 'societal security'.
Llchiii c.iiia\ Buzan in Copenhagen 125

It is clear that 'societal security' is the object of an assumption about its

referent, not the object of inquiry. That would entail an inquiry into which
of the indeterminate values susceptible to threat - including identity - may be
vulnerable and require security. A society's survival is a matter of identity,
they assert. N o evidence or argument is offered in support, other than the
comment that 'this is the way a society talks about existential threats: if this
happens, we will no longer be able to live as "us"'." This observation is
made analytically true, of course, if we accept the definition of society in
terms of 'individuals identifying themselves as members of a community'.'"
But that is to reduce our conception of society to its most ephemeral and
empirically contentious component and to ignore other elements.
The authors briefly acknowledge that econon~icthreats to particular
groups within a society can affect the security of society as a whole." But this
passing interest in the multi-dimensionality of threats is not sustained. Neither
does it reflect interest in the multi-diniensionality of values susceptible to
threat. The only value which they can conceive as vulnerable in the event of
economic threats is societ:il identity.
If, rather than assuming that identity is the unique value vulnerable to
threat, the authors had pos&l as a problkrn, 'What i s the focus of the secur-
ity concerns of the people who comprise "society"?', the intuitive evidence
alone would have suggested a range of values, with economic welfare prom-
inent. This would force the level of analysis down trom society as a whole to
its social-group components. That would open up not just a methodological
can of worms for the a ~ ~ t h o-r sas they realize"' - but a theoretical one rllso.
Their focus o n the domestic dimension of the security problem could no
longer remain at the macro-level of society, and a new conceptual schema
would be r e q ~ ~ i r eto
d deal with the dynamics of sub-societal, societal and
state interaction. This would have resulted in a quite different approach, in
which the apparent fact of societal identity was exposed as an integral, polit-
ical aspect of the security problem, rather than a taken-for-granted reality
which defined the problem.
Identity is not a fact of society; it is a process of negotiation among people
and interest groups. Being English, Irish, Danish is a consequence of a polit-
ical process, and it is that process, not the label synibolizing it, which con-
stitutes the reality that needs explication. We cannot decide the status, or
even the relevance, of identity LI priori. Where it is relevant, it is not neces-
sarily the cause o f a security problem, as the authors assume. It is just as
likely to be its effect. Which it is can only be revealed by deconstructing the
process o f identity formation at the sub-societal level, but the authors reject
this approach as leading inevitably to individualism. The security prohlem
in the Russian Federation, former Yugoslavia, or Northern Ireland is not
there just because people have separate identities; it may well be that they
have separate identities because of the security prohlem. Contrary to the
authors' claim," identity is not to be taken as an independent variable, tout
court; it is often the outcome of a labelling process which reflects a conflict
of interests at the political level.
126 Widening Security

We get some sense of the applicability of the authors' theoretical approach

to identity and security in the case-studies which form the bulk of Waever
et al. and which comment interestingly on European integration, migration,
the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and other areas of conflict. A brief
examination of one of these studies, which is representative of the approach
of all, is i n s t r ~ c t i v e . ~ ~
Most of the story is a straightforward, albeit excellent, piece of traditional
political science, giving customary attention to state actors and employing a
familiar shorthand of ethnic labels for political leadership, which we have no
difficulty in translating. 'Kosovo Albanians repeated their 1968 demand for a
republic', 'the Serbs insisted on living together', 'the Croats finally recovered
their own state', and so on.23This is vintage security analysis without preten-
sion to broader concepts or sociological deconstruction. The question does not
arise, since throughout most of the chapter the author pays little attention to
the new focus on identity to which his contribution has been recruited; indeed
he scarcely mentions the word.
The concept of identity makes its appearance in a few pages of conclu-
sion where Hakan Wiberg reflects on his own analysis in the light of the the-
oretical agenda of the pLincipa1 authors. ~ e s ~ i tthe e - lack of evidence, he
asserts that the conflict is really about the twin concepts of identity and the
state24- defined as objects of security by the principal authors, even though
his analysis has touched, inter alia, on economic deprivation among urban
workers, and has nowhere shown how collective identity was constructed
and articulated. Among several unsupported claims to illustrate this point,
he states that the secessions of Croatia and Bosnia 'would be seen by Serbs
there as identity threats ... as deadly threats to the security of the Serb com-
munities ...'25 And again: 'The identity problem can be succinctly described
by recalling that Macedonia is surrounded by Bulgaria ...'26
Would that it were so easy! This is one example of the manner in which
most of the case-studies are approached in a traditional way and then over-
laid with the identity thesis. There is nothing in this case-study to support
the identity thesis of the principal authors, unless it be the reification of
identity itself. The opportunity is missed to explore the extent to which
Yugoslavia, far from exemplifying the autonomy of identity as a social fact,
is perhaps an outstanding example of the manipulation of identity by polit-
ical Clites in an area remarkable for its historical forgetfulness.

Identity and Moral judgment

The human and moral connotations of identity give it a popular appeal. Its
apparent subjectivity makes everyone an expert. Its fundamental character
as an inalienable human property blocks all criticism and makes its secure
possession a matter of elementary justice. We are who we think we are; no
one else can judge us.
Though Waever et al. would reject this popular notion as the basis for their
understanding of collective identity, their thesis, paradoxically, commits them
, -i i Buzan in Copenhagen 127

to the same relativism. In effect they have an objectivist theory with relativist
consequences. In their view, identity is a property of society, not to be confused
with human beings. It 'emerges' (a frequently used term) from the peculiar
interactions of people and institutions in each society, fixed and incorrigible
like the computer output of a complex arithmetic. Identity describes the soci-
ety, and society is constituted by identity. Since its computation or construc-
tion does not crucially depcnd o n human decisions, i t rnakcs n o sense to speak
of correcting it. Societal identity just is. We are stuck with it. There is no way
we can replace it, except by adopting multiple identities, each of which is, in
principle, as inviolable as the next." It follows that we are stuck with every
other comn~unity'saccount of its identity also, and have no intellectual means
of passing judgment on these accounts. We may not like who they are, but if
they think that way, so be it.
This aspect of the identity thesis is disturbing because of its implications for
security policy in general and for particular security issues in Europe. It lies at
the other extreme to racism. The one view claims to judge races and to allo-
cate each a position in an ontological hierarchy. The other refuses all judgment
and allocates to each society an objective identity proper to it. Fortunately,
there is more to be said about it than just to disapprove.

Collective identity and security share a similar dependence on subjective

awareness and the need for objective verification. Collective identity is first a
matter of perception, just as security and insecurity also begin in our percep-
tion of vulnerabilities and threats. A critical difference appears, however, when
we consider that the perception and fear of threats to security can, in prin-
ciple, be checked by observing and evaluating the facts external to the sub-
ject. To privilege perception would, in effect, turn security policy over to
demagogues and paranoiacs. It is plainly critical for security, both that we
take perceptions seriously and that we have some criteria for correcting them,
for assessing their objectivity. Paranoia, or complacency, can be challenged by
There seems to be no parallel in regard to identity. There is no court of
appeal that can perform the same scholarly task for our sense of identity,
personal or collective. The authors acknowledge part of the problenl in
their concluding reflection^.^^ They see that not everyone who claims to
articulate the identity of a society must thereby be accepted as an authority.
In other words, they recognize that there may be an empirical problem.
Their choice of examples to illustrate this - fascism, racism, xenophobia -
hints a t awareness of a deeper, normative problem," but the discussion is
not extended to explore it. When a claim is made about collective identity,
their solution is to wait until hindsight reveals the truth:'"
But what kind of 'truth' could it reveal? What if Le Pen manages to
manufacture a majority consent, verified by polls or other measurement tech-
niques, around the idea of racism and xenophobia, or if the IRA creates a
'collective identity1 which incorporates intense anti-British sentiment into a
128 Widening Security

symbol of Irish solidarity? Such hypothetical developments are not wildly

improbable, and would immediately present a serious security problem in
France and Ireland. From the traditional security point of view, the state
would intervene and speak objective security for the society. This means
that the racist perception of security would be countered by a decision of
the state and a policy strategy to implement it.
Prior to settling the security problem in this manner, however, there is
the more basic epistemological task of 'correcting' the identity claims which
gave rise to it, the task of speaking 'objective' identity for the society. Who
will judge what counts as the parameters of collective identity, and by what
criteria must be judgment be made? Not to arbitrate is to abandon the prob-
lem and leave its resolution to the state or to the anarchic struggle of the
most powerful interests.
Waever et al. offer no basis or criteria for arbitration between competing
identity claims. Faced with the fact that identity disputes are a special case, not
susceptible to objective resolution by empirical observation, they conclude, in
effect, that such disputes are beyond all resolution. Their case-studies, their
style and their apparent intention stand solidly within a theoretical tradition
not noted for its affinity with relativism. Ironically, their solution to this prob-
lem of identity disputes - or rather their failure to offer any solution to it -
leaves them, and us, in something of a postmodernist maze. The problem of
resolving disputes about identity is, at root, a philosophical one in which
moral judgment inescapably intrudes.

Parallel with Freedom

An analogy between identity and individual freedom will serve to illustrate

the point. The test of freedom cannot be reduced to a test of the absence of
obstacles to the fulfilment of desires. By that criterion, a happy slave might
be judged free and a frustrated professor enslaved. Neither can it be reduced
to perception. The slave may perceive himself more free than the professor,
but it is obvious that the concept of personal freedom loses the meaning we
invest in it, if we limit it to the perception of either.
We need a test to judge the needs which are relevant to personal freedom
if we are to rescue the concept from being merely an expression of taste.
The test of freedom must begin from a positive judgment about human
needs and rights, not from a negative assessment of obstacles. The philo-
sophical starting-point must be some ideal of human n a t ~ r e . The
~ ' fact that
we have no authoritative, epistemological basis for constructing such an
ideal is no argument against its necessity. We can, and we routinely do, make
judgments about personal freedom. But they are not judgments which can
be validated by empirical observation alone.
If we want a test allowing us to transcend individual perception and to
judge personal freedom in the light of the human competence to which the
concept refers, then we are in the business of making a moral decision. We
stand some chance of making a more reasoned judgment if we address its
normative character explicitly than if we hide it from view behind a veil of
false respect for the authenticity of the person.
The implication for personal and collective identity should be clear. The
bas~sof judgment about person'11 rdentlty overlap closely w ~ t hthe judgment
about personal freedom. The answer to the questlon 'Who am I?' clearly does
not rest simply on empmcal ev~dence,though the fxtual, historical data col-
lected in o u r passport, our diary and our past experiences are very relevant.
Ne~thercan ~tbe decided exclus~velyIn terms of sublect~veperception. We rou-
tmely 'correct' the ~ d e n t ~ cla~ms
ty not only of others but of ourselves. It rests
also on the contrast and balance between a normative view of human nature
and the facts of personal biography. It entails an element of decision as well as
Similarly, the collective question, 'Who are we?' cannot be answered sim-
ply by reference to opinion polls, ancient myths, folk music or other meas-
ures of collective history. It too entails a decision based on a theory which
relates some of the countless biographical facts of our collective past and
present to a view of who we want to be. 'We are who we choose to be' over-
states our freedom in the matter but makes the point forcefully that collect-
ive identity is a choice made by people, not a property of society which
transcends their agency.
We choose from an array of possible identities, so to speak. (Clearly, this
is to analyze identity formation in the abstract. No society exists where we
could observe this process from the starting-point o f a tabula rasa without
an already-existing identity and the consequent pressures of socialization to
adopt and to affirm it.) The question is how these diverse individual choices
come to cohere in a clear or vague collective image, and how disputes about
identity, with security implications, are settled. If we reify the notion of soci-
etal identity, in the manner of Waever et al., the answer is that it just hap-
pens. If sub-societal groups see things differently from the majority, Waever
et al. offer no criteria by which to judge and resolve the dispute. For them,
society has an identity by definition. People d o not choose it; they recognize
it, they belovzg to it."
This is sociologically untenable. It is blind to the moral choices which go
into the melting-pot of the process of identity forn~ation.To answer the
question raised above: individual and group choices come to cohere in a
societal identity - when they d o - only by virtue of higher-level moral deci-
sions about what counts and what does not in the image we want to have of
ourselves. Whether it is the state, the Supreme Court or simply the most
powerful hidden interests which settle the matter is less important than that
we recognize the inescapable ethical judgment in the process of choosing the
components of a collective identity. These agencies are political instruments,
made necessary by the fact that social order requires a referee with the man-
date to speak for society. In Buzan ( 1 991), as noted, the state was not only
given the political mandate in relation to security, it was also ontologically
identified with the needs and rights of the people whose security was at
stake. The moral judgment involved in Buzan's account is hidden within the
130 Widening Security

function of the state. In the new focus on societal identity, there is no referee
and there are no criteria for legitimizing decisions about identity. In effect,
the construction of identity and the resolution of identity disputes are left to
emerge, incorrigible and beyond assessment, from the mysterious workings
of society. The element of normative judgment in the negotiations which
constitute the permanent process of identity formation is lost.
Collective identity is not 'out there', waiting to be discovered. What is 'out
there' is identity discourse on the part of political leaders, intellectuals and
countless others, who engage in the process of constructing, negotiating and
affirming a response to the demand - at times urgent, mostly absent - for a
collective image. Even in times of crisis, this is never more than a provisional
and fluid image of ourselves as we want to be, limited by the facts of history.
The relevance of this argument to the concept of societal security should be


Three general points which summarize the main threads of the foregoing dis-
cussion will be made, in addition to a brief comment on the implications of
the identity thesis for Buzan's analysis of security in People, States and Fear.
The validity of the identity thesis hinges on the objectivism of the authors'
concepts of 'society' and 'identity'. Society is conceived as a social fact, with
the same objectivity and ontological status as the state. Notwithstanding sev-
eral passing comments to the contrary, the authors' definition and analysis of
society is essentially Durkheimian. This perspective determines the method-
ology and skews the inquiry and level of analysis away from that required for
a process which is constituted by social practices. Such a focus would view
'society' and 'state' as an 'objectification' of social interaction, in Berger and
Luckmann's sense of the term;33 they are a particular class of dependent, not
independent, variable.
Secondly, the misunderstanding of 'identity' follows from the definition of
society. Who we are is not a matter of fact imposed on individuals who
'belong' to the 'society' of Waever et al. Their idea of collective identity as a
social fact projects the image of a collective self to be discovered: we are who
we are. The evidence and philosophical argument point more convincingly to
process and negotiation: we are who we want to be, subject to the constraints
of history. Such constraints set limits to the boundaries of possibility; the case
for an ecumenical harmony of identity between Danes and Swedes is clearly
more plausible than that between Danes and Zulus. Within such constraints,
disagreements about identity can and do flourish and, where they give rise to
conflict and have security implications, can be settled, but only by moral deci-
sion informed by factual observation, not by observation alone.
A third and related point is that this decision in regard to identity and its
security is a normative one. We cannot assume, by definition, that 'society'
i I i Buzan in Copenhagen 131

embodies a single value or interest - identity - which stands alongside the

values of the state as the only object of vulnerability and threat which is rele-
vant to security analysis. The problem is, rather, to investigate which inter-
ests are at stake and who are the interested parties pursuing them.
The political concepts of interests and legitimacy suggest themselves as
being more fruitful analytical tools for understanding and interpreting recent
or past events in Europe than identity and societal security. The concept of
interests captures the political reality prior to the emergence into the security
arena of any sense of common identity. From the macro-side of the state, its
legitimacy to speak identity and security on behalf of all takes priority over
'socio-political cohesion', in Buzan's understanding of the term, as the value
that determines the strength of the state, and thus the state's capacity to inte-
grate with other strong states in a mature anarchy." In addition to their imme-
diacy and common-sense fit with the empirical evidence, 'interests' have the
merit of exposing the normative concerns of the actors whose values are at
issue, while 'legitimacy' directs attention to the viability of the decision of the
state or other agency which must judge the claims of rival interests.
Media interpretation of recent events in Europe has highlighted the rise
of nationalism and national identity, because these are the terms most fre-
quently employed by the principal political actors. It is media myth-making
to interpret the evidence of the first Danish referendum on Maastricht as
'Denmark says N o to the State', or in the Macedonia dispute to assert that
'Greeks defend ancient rights'. The reification of identity makes intellec-
tuals the unwitting accomplices of these journalistic conventions.
No one can deny that some sense of common identity is a product of living
together in common institutions, or that national identity can become a secur-
ity problem. The problem is to interpret identity claims, rather than assume
their validity and coherence. It behoves security theorists to take care not to
make the task of particular interest groups - and journalists - easier by pos-
tulating identity as a social reality to which people subscribe. Waever et 31.3
book will make claims for the protection of national identity all the easier to
substantiate, without investigation of the interests underlying them or of the
moral choices involved in any decision to authenticate them. It may in time
be used by EU states as theoretical support for the renationalization of com-
mon policies, for tougher policies on migration and for a state-biased inter-
pretation of subsidiarity. In such an eventuality, Waever et al. may be viewed
by IR theorists and historians as a significant straw in a familiar wind of the-
oretical change, propelled, yet again, by events which serve policy interests.
Finally, Waever et al. are silent o n how they see the continuity between
Buzan (1991) and the identity thesis. There is only passing reference to the
two central ideas on which Buzan's broader concept of security pivots: secur-
ity complex and the concept of strondweak states."
Rejecting the realist idea that domestic affairs had no relevance to inter-
national security, Buzan (1991) dipped into domestic waters with his concept
of sociopolitical cohesion, but he ventured no further. Cohesion had to be
132 Widening Security

seen as an instrument and property of the state, if his general model of inter-
national security within anarchy - which entailed state primacy - was to be
preserved. Human beings were ultimately the reason for all security, but they
had no place in the analysis which explained its dynamics; their agency was
blocked by the theoretical decision to explain security only at the levels of the
state and the international system. Now Waever et al., and Buzan as joint
author, emphatically reject the primacy of the state and appear to have gone
much further in the domestic direction. After all, what could be more human
and domestic than to counterpose society and its identity to the state as an
object of security in its own right? However, it is clear that 'societal identity'
is not the identity of a collectivity of human beings. 'Societal security is not
used in this book as a "more human" concept of security ...'36 Society is a
technical term, defined not as a human process but as a reality transcending
the individuals who belong to it. Where does the new focus on societal secur-
ity leave Buzan's concept of the 'strong state'?
As Steve Smith suggests, one can discern a prescriptive dimension in Buzan's
understanding of strong states in a mature a n a r ~ h y . ~One' could argue - that
the substantive policy implications of his book are not those under the head-
ing 'Implications for P o l i ~ y ' but
, ~ ~are contained in the prescriptive treatment
of his concepts of strong state and security complex. A mature anarchy is,
after all, a position on his continuum of regional security configurations,
related to the idea of a 'security community'. If the move from security com-
plex to security community is desirable, as it clearly is, so too is the move
from weak to strong states in the international arena. Becoming a strong state
is a condition of participating in a security community.
In Buzan (1991),the primacy of the state is the pivot on which the domes-
tic dimension of the strong state and the international dimension of regional
security turn. The seminal character of People, States and Fear lay in the break
with the realism of traditional security studies marked by these two ideas. The
movement on a spectrum of weak to strong states directed attention to the
domestic level, and the corresponding movement from immature to mature
anarchy (or, in regional terms, from security complex to security community)
introduced the possibility and need for change at the international level.
Together, they represented a more complex and adequate picture of reality and
of the possibilities of change than the realists could envisage.
Theoretically, this advance depended on maintaining the realist doctrine
on state primacy. The agency of change in the domestic as in the international
sphere could not be attributed to sub-state or supra-state actors. If sub-state
actors were credited with the capacity to shift the state, then something close
to anarchy would rule at the domestic level. By definition, there could be no
stability in the socio-political cohesion which Buzan understood as a state-
managed domestic order and which was a defining characteristic of his
'strong state'. On the other hand, if the international system were allowed to
determine shifts in the security position of the state, Buzan would have to
reformulate his entire theoretical framework. His version of realism sees
anarchy as a constant, with modifications in regional configurations brought
Zli\~vecnc \ Buzan in C o p e n h a g e n 133

about by the actions of states. It is on the security of the state that the secur-
ity of people and of the international system depends. While an overall envir-
onment of anarchy determines the range of state actions, any change in the
character of the state from weak to strong can only be brought about by the
state itself.
The problem, then, is to understand how the identity thesis is compatible
with Buzan's security thcory. The concept of a strong state rested on the sub-
ordination of society to the state. Now, in Waever et al. the state is no longer
the uniquely privileged actor. Domestic resistance to the state cannot be viewed
as some kind of pathology. The vulnerability of identity to external threats is
now viewed as the vulnerability no longer of the state, but of an autonomous
actor and potential rival within its houndaries: society. The management o f
societal identity, which Buzan saw as the business of the state in building the
social cohesion essential to becoming strong and fit for membership of a secur-
ity community within a mature anarchy - this task is now in the hands of soci-
ety itself. A strong sense of societal identity could very likely, and not just
pathologically, coincide with resistance to the state. How changes in identity
are effected, or disputes about identity arc resolved, is not addressed by
Waever et al. Who would judge? Buzan's implicit answer was 'the state', and
this allowed for the possibility of change from weak to strong state which was
critical to his thesis. If society is now an independent variable, no longer sub-
ordinate to the state, then it appears that the Copenhagen school has under-
mined Buzan's original thesis. Ruzan himself has collaborated in an analysis of
security which purports to develop his analysis of 1983-91 but, in fact, sub-
verts it, without enhancing our understanding of the problems of security.


T h e author wishes t o thank I'aul 'Iiiylor a n d anonymous refel-ees tor comnients o n a n earlier
draft, w h ~ c halso benefited from exposure t o students of the hll'liil ( T C D ) programme in the
Centre for I'race S t u d ~ r s .


1. ldrntrty, Migrtrtion. To , i v o ~ dc o n f u s ~ o nd u e t o c o m m o n n i ~ t h o r s h ~ pthe

, authors of this
hook will be referred t o in the text as Waever et al. Similarl>, Buran (1991) will distinguish
Tlu~an'sauthorship of the second edition o f I'eop/e, States an<{Ce~w.
2. Ken Booth, 'Security , ~ n dEmancipation', Revieic~of Int~~rniztional Studies, 17 ( 199 1 ),
pp. 313-26.
3. h i d . ; Steve Smith, 'hIature Anarchy, Strong States a n d Security', In Arms Cotztrol, 12
(1991), pp. 325-39; Martin Shaw, 'There is n o such Thing as Soc~ety:Beyond Individualism
a n d Statism in Intern.~tionalSecurity Studies', in Reuielc~of Intcrri~rtiotzalStudies, 19 ( 1993),
pp. 1.59-75.
4. Waever er al., ldent~t):Migration, p. 25.
5. Anthony G ~ d d e n s Socrology
, ( C x n h r ~ d g e ,19891, p. 32.
6 . Waever et nl., Itlentrty, M~grutron,p. 2 I.
134 Widening Security

7. Ibid., p. 24 (emphasis added).

8. Ibid., p. 6 (emphasis added).
9. Ibid., p. 23.
10. Ibid., p. 24.
11. Ibid., p. 18; Buzan, People, States and Fear, pp. 35ff.
12. Waever et al., Identity, Migratcon, p. 187.
13. Ibid., p. 189.
14. Ibid., p. 26.
15. Ibid., p. 185.
16. Ibid., p. 188.
17. Ibid., p. 26.
18. Ibid., p. 24.
19. Ibid., p. 20.
20. Ibid., p. 20.
21. Ibid., p. 185.
22. Hakan Wiberg, 'Societal Security and the Explosion of Yugoslavia', in Waever et al.,
Identity, Migration, ch. 5, pp. 93-109.
23. Ibid., pp. 99, 101, 98.
24. Ibid., p. 105.
25. Ibid., p. 106.
26. Ibid., p. 108.
27. Though the authors raise the question, 'When (if ever) can national identity be replaced
by another identity?' (p. 28), the only discussion of this possibility concerns the overlaying of a
European on a national identity. Ibid., ch. 4; see also Buzan et al., European Security Order,
pp. 36ff.
28. Waever et al., Identity, Migration, pp. 187-9.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid., p. 188.
31. See the discussion of personal freedom, from which this analogy is drawn, in Martin
Hollis, Invitation t o Philosophy (Oxford, 1989), pp. 138ff.
32. Waever et al., Identity, Migration, p. 21.
33. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, Social Construction of Reality, Pt 2 (London,
1969), pp. 6Sff.
34. Buzan, People, States and Fear, ch. 2.
35. While security-complex analysis is adopted in Waever et al., Identity, Migration, ch. 7
on 'Europe and the Middle East', it is not integrated with the identity concerns of the book.
As with Wiberg's discussion of Yugoslavia, ch. 7 imposes an 'identity' relevance on an essen-
tially traditional security discussion.
36. Waever et al., Identity, Migration, p. 24.
37. Smith, 'Mature Anarchy'.
38. Buzan, People, States and Fear, pp. 374ff.
Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies:
Politics and Methods'
Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams

ebates over the nature and meaning of "security" and the future
of security studies have become a staple of the field's post-Cold
War agenda (Buzan, 199 1 : 14; Crawford, 1991; Haftendorn, 1991:
15; Kolodziej, 1992a, 1992b; Baldwin, 1995). These debates have three roots:
a discontent among some scholars with the neorealist foundations that have
characterized the field, a need to respond to the challenges posed by the
emergence of a post-Cold War security order, and a continuing desire t o
make the discipline relevant to contemporary concerns. But despite much
discussion, scholars have not arrived at a consensus o n what a more broadly
constructed conception of security should look like.
The diverse contributions to the debates on "new thinking on security"
can be classified along several axes. One - associated inter alia with such
authors as Richard Ullman (19831, Jessica T ~ ~ c h m aMathews n ( 1989),
Theodore Moran (199019 I ) , Brad Roberts ( 1 990), Myron Weiner (1992/93),
and Beverly Crawford ( 1 994) - attempts to hroilcicn the neorealist concep-
tion of security to include a wider range of potential threats, ranging from
economic and environn~entalissues to human rights and migration. This chal-
lenge has been accompanied by discussions intended to deepen the agenda of
security studies by moving either down to the level of individual or human
security or up to the level o f international or global security, with regional
and societal security as possible intermediate points (Rubenstein, 1988; Buzan,
1991; Grant, 1992; Tickner, 1992; Waever et ul., 1993). Others have remained
within a state-centric approach but have deployed diverse terms (common,
cooperative, collective, comprehensive) as modifiers to "security" to advocate
different multilateral forms of interstate security cooperation that could ameli-
orate, if not transcend, the security dilemma (Palme Commission, 1982;
Kupchan and Kupchan, 199 1; Carter, Perry, and Steinbruner, 1992; Dewitt,
1994).' This essay review concentrates on the efforts to broaden and deepen
our conceptions of security.

Source: Mcrd~orzIiztrr~tat~or~iz/
Stzlcfics Rel~icu:40(2) ( 1996): 229-54
136 Widening Security

What unites these efforts is a conviction that the neorealist focus on safe-
guarding the "core values" of a state from military threats emanating from
outside its borders is no longer adequate (if it ever was) as a means of under-
standing what (or who) is to be secured, from what threats, and by what
means. The theoretical targets being debated are the conceptualizations of
security (state security) and threat (military force) and the assumption of
anarchy (the security dilemma) that have characterized neorealist scholarship
in security studies (Walt, 1991: 212; Posen, 1993a: 82; Schultz, Godson, and
Greenwood, 1993: 2; Mearsheimer, 1995).3 By the neorealist account, as
Stephen Walt (1991: 212) defines it, security studies is "the study of the
threat, use, and control o f military force ... [that is] the conditions that make
the use of force more likely, the ways that the use of force affects individuals,
states and societies, and the specific policies that states adopt in order to pre-
pare for, prevent, or engage in war" (emphasis in the original).
Not surprisingly, attempts to broaden and deepen the neorealist agenda of
security studies have been met by a spirited defense. Calls to expand the field,
although they may appear compelling and even seek laudable ends, are viewed
from the neorealist perspective as taking security studies away from its trad-
itional focus and methods and making the field intellectually incoherent and
practically irrelevant (Dorff, 1994; Mearsheimer, 1994195; Gray, 1995). Even
though it is considered responsible scholarship to permit additions and amend-
ments to the core of security studies, to throw away its foundation is deemed
intellectually unsupportable. According to neorealists (Mearsheimer 1995: 92),
alternative approaches have provided neither a clear explanatory framework
for analyzing security nor demonstrated their value in concrete research.
Moreover, some neorealists (Walt, 1991: 213) have argued that the adoption
of alternative conceptions is not only analytically mistaken but politically irre-
Rather than presenting another polemical overview of the contrasting
positions in these debates (see Mearsheimer, 1994195, 1995; Keohane and
Martin, 1995; Kupchan and Kupchan, 1995; Wendt, 1995), this essay review
takes seriously Walt's (198710: 146) claim that "critical evaluation is ... the
key to scientific progress." The review proceeds in three stages. It starts by
evaluating, on their own terms, neorealist claims regarding the scope and
nature of contemporary security problems. This initial section discusses the
way in which the usually implicit foundational claims or assumptions of
neorealism underlie its vision of security and security studies. It suggests how
these claims shape neorealism's stance toward debates over whether (and
how) the concept of security should be "broadened" to incorporate nonstate
and nonmilitary dimensions, concluding that these commitments have tended
to close debate prematurely and thus constrain our understanding of current
issues and dilemmas. The section takes the debates surrounding "environ-
mental security" as an exemplar to highlight the exclusionary and inclusionary
strategies at work (Lapid and Kratochwil, 1996: 109).
The second section examines whether neorealist security studies lives up
to the promises of its foundational claims, and how controversies within
h t I I I . Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 137

recent research illuminate critical tensions in its methodological claims.

It argues that, judged by the standards of rationalist science that its own
authors use to assess other work, current research within the neorealist para-
digm fails to measure up. The section focuses on debates concerning alliance
formation, offenseldefense theory, and the attempts to incorporate nation-
alism and national identity into security studies. The goal is to show that a
recognition of the methodological and epistemological issues at stake creates
openings for alternative research strategies and formulations that cannot be
foreclosed by appeals to standards of "science" that neorealist scholarship
itself is unable to meet.
The third section scrutinizes some of the alternative formulations to
security studies by examining recent scholarship that focuses on how secur-
ity is "constructed" and "practiced." The discussion parallels that in the
first section, unwrapping the core claims and assumptions of alternative
approaches to determine what is involved in accepting a different research
agenda in studying security studies. The section shows that the issues raised
in this review pose significant challenges to these alternative approaches as
well. The co~iclusionasks whether (and in what way) different approaches
to security s t ~ ~ d i eare
s incommensurable or reconcilable in some fashion.
Although this review does not "compare and contrast" different approaches
(because the question of whether they are dealing with the same " s ~ ~ b j e c t "
is a key issue ot dispute), the intent is to spark a dialogue among scholars
about the foundations of security studies, the different directions future
research might take, and the implications of these issues for political practice.

The Disciplinary Authority of the Neorealist Conception of Security

Stephen Walt's (1991) "Renaissance of Security Studies" represents a typical

and influential formulation of the neorealist conception of security that con-
stitutes the core of much of the field. For him, the field has gradually evolved
into an objective, scientific discipline in which the "laws" governing the
realm of security are discovered or, at least, the correct method for their dis-
covery has been identified. Walt's (1991: 222) view that "security studies seeks
ctinzulatiue krzoudedgc about the role of military force" requiring scholar5 to
"follow the standard canons of scientific research" is echoed by others, such
as Helga Haftendorn (1991: 12), who stress the need "to construct an ernpir-
ically testable paradigm" that involves a "set of observational hypotheses," a
"hard core of irrefutable assumptions," and a "set of scope conditions." For
Walt (1991: 222), the "increased sophistication of the security studies field
and its growing prominence within the scholarly community is due in large
part to the endorsement of these principles by most members of the field" (see
also Walt, 1987b; Nye and 1,ynn-Jones, 1988).
This interpretation of the evolution of strategic studies sets up the assump-
tions and methods of neorealist security studies as the standards against which
alternative claims are judged. Such is hardly a new argumentative tactic in the
138 Widening Security

history of strategic thought. The search for the "laws of war" goes back at
least to the Enlightenment (Gat, 1989: 29, 25-53, 1992: 1-45) and, as John
Shy (1986: 184-185) argues, this vision of truth and method "has become,
during almost two centuries, so deeply embedded in Western consciousness
that many adherents refuse to accept it as a 'mode' of thinking at all." Viewed
historically "contemporary strategists echo Jomini (in his defense against
Clausewitz) by insisting that [their] critics fail to meet the urgent demand of
strategy for clarity, rigor, and utility" (Shy, 1986: 84).
The claim to scientific knowledge underlying neorealist security studies
is supported by a series of foundational claims that are presented as "facts"
about the world. The most important of these claims concerns the central-
ity of the state as the subject of security. Paradoxically, this vision emerges
neither from a theory of the state nor of the international "structure" but
from an implicit theory of the "subject" seen in terms of an individual per-
son. The subject is presented as an autonomous, rational actor confronted
by an environment filled with similar actors. These others are a source of
insecurity - hence, the classic security dilemma and the popularity of "state
of nature" analogies supposedly drawn from Hobbes or Rousseau (Waltz,
1959; Williams, 1989, 1996). Whether this situation arises from the nature
of the actors or from the context in which they find themselves (the trad-
itional debate between first-, second-, and third-image explanations) is less
important here than the recognition of the common foundation from which
both possibilities spring: an assumption of methodological individualism in
which all social action (cooperation and conflict) is strictly the product of
the interaction of wholly self-contained, instrumentally rational subjects
(Ordeshook, 1986: 1; Waltz, 1986b: 90-91, 115; Luke, 1987; Grieco, 1988:
487-488; Wendt, 1992: 392).
From this starting point, there can be no security in the absence of author-
ity. The state, accordingly, becomes the primary locus of security, authority,
and obligation. Contractual obligations between citizens represent the limit
(underwritten by the authority of the state) of effective coordination for col-
lective action (or of "community"). The security of "citizens" is identified
with (and guaranteed by) that of the state; and, by definition, those who
stand outside it represent potential or actual threats. Relations between states
are thereby rendered purely "strategic" (or contractual) in the instrumental
sense of the word. This foundation provides the basis for claims about inter-
national anarchy. A particular state, as a "rational subject," looks to its own
interests and security (and those of its constituents) first and foremost.
Despite the fact that in the long term its interests might be better served
through cooperation, a state cannot rationally assume that other states will
act in a cooperative fashion. Therefore, it acts solely in its own interest, and
all others do the same. The problem is not the lack of central agency to enforce
promises but the absence of a central authority to prevent the use of violence
to destroy or enslave (Grieco, 1988: 497-498; Milner, 1993; Mearsheimer,
1994195: 9-13).
I 11 ii 1 1 Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 139

The declaration that the state is the subject of security and anarchy the
eternal condition of international relations is, thus, premised not on object-
ive facts or structural determinants but is grounded in a deeper set of
claims about the nature of political subjects and their relationship to sover-
eignty. The "fact" of anarchy is based on an a priori claim about autonomous
individual human subjects and the kind of contractarian political order that
these subjects necessarily require. At the international level tl,e essence of
this conceptualization is not simply a world of self-regarding states oper-
ating under the "security dilemma," but the assumption that there is a par-
ticular form of individual rationality in state action as both the source and
outcome of that anarchy. The above are, however, more than simplifying
theoretical assun~ptionsadopted for analytical convenience as some have
argued (Achen and Snidal, 1989: 150; Powell, 1993: 117). They are inextric-
ably tied to a particular set of episten~ologicalclaims and related methods
(Walker forthcoming).
The neorealist conception of security studies claims to be founded on an
objective representation of reality. This claim to know objectively means
that the discipline must treat the phenomena under consideration as given,
unproblematic o&cts. This instrumental-rational conception of human and
state action has consistently created difficulties in security studies (Steinbruner,
1974; Jervis et al., 1985; Levy, 1989: 272-289; Sagan, 1994) and in inter-
national relations more generally (Hollis and Smith, 1991). In neorealism, the
concept of rational self-interest provides the bridge that allows one to treat
state actions as the externally observable "objective phenomena" that are
required by a rationalist epistemology. The reduction of states to instrumen-
tally rational actors, embedded in a contractual theory of sovereignty and tied
up within a specific claim about scientific knowledge and its progress, is a
powerful theoretical move. Grounded in a series of assumptions deeply
ingrained in the culture from which it emerges, neorealist security studies can
confidently declare what is and is not a "security" issue, or what threats are,
and to whom they refer. The reader should note, however, that these claims
to objectivity and science rely on a prior definition of the political object and
the conditions of its (in)security. These foundations are at the heart of the
neorealist appraisal and rejection of attempts to bring "new issues" onto the
security agenda. The debates surrounding efforts to link "environment" and
"security" provide an excellent illustration of this process.

Perhaps the most w~despreadcall to redefme security has emerged from the
claim that env~ronmentaldegradation poses a threat to the ecosystem or to
human well-being that transcends part~cularstates and conceptions of natlonal
security. The severe consequences of continued env~ronmentaldegradat~on
are mewed as more urgent than external threats that could lead to organ~zed
140 Widening Security

violence. Moreover, national interest and sovereignty are considered less im-
portant than the well-being of the individual or the species. Such a recognition
has led to a demand for "a redefinition of what constitutes national security"
because "the assumptions and institutions that have governed international
relations in the postwar era are a poor fit with these new realities" (Tuchman
Mathews, 1989: 162). Scholars making these arguments accept the neorealist
claim that "security" is reducible to an objective referent and set of threats.
They seek to reorient security studies (and policies), however, by calling on the
authority of the natural sciences to demonstrate that environmental change "in
fact" represents a threat to human well-being, and by asserting that what is
really threatened is not an abstraction like "the state" but the material well-
being of individuals (Myers, 1993: 31; see also Dabelko and Dabelko, 1995).
According to these researchers, the constraints imposed by traditional cate-
gories of thought have limited our grasp of this reality; our conceptions of
security and our policies and institutions for providing security need to change
to meet the new challenges (Ullman, 1983; Mische, 1989).
But these calls to redefine security meet resistance because they do not
conform to the a priori political and methodological foundations underlying
the neorealist view of security. Those interested in broadening the agenda of
security studies fail to see that the field is not premised on the straightforward
observation of objective phenomena that threaten human life, and that rejec-
tion of the individual as the locus of security is not an oversight. The concept
of national security does not simply represent a reaction to objective condi-
tions; it is built on a series of political and epistemological choices that define
what is considered security. To appeal to the reality of environmental threats,
or to the security of individuals, runs up against the sovereignist resolutions
that form the basis of neorealist thinking.
Illustrations of this resistance are found in Marc Levy's and Robert
Dorff's exclusionary responses to the environment and security literature.
Levy (1995a, 199Sb) concedes the existence of potential environmental haz-
ards to human well-being, but he argues that their place as security issues
cannot be sustained. The attempt to make the environment a security issue
is marked more by a desire to heighten the political profile of environmental
concerns by placing them within the rhetoric of security than by any sus-
tainable status as security issues. Likewise, Dorff (1994: 27) asserts that
although a broader definition of security highlights significant contemporary
problems, these do not constitute security issues because "'problems' is not
a concept ... [it] provides us with no ordering of reality that we can use to
create a common understanding of what it is that we are talking about ...
[nor a] range of possible policy approaches to address those problems."
These arguments rely on two analytic moves that have significant con-
sequences. First, by describing the broadening of the concept of security as
a political rather than an analytical act, neorealists implicitly position their
view as an apolitical stance that is not equally driven by (or established
upon) a set of value commitments. Second, by thus positioning themselves,
neorealists implicitly establish their view as the yardstick against which
1 I i I 7, Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 14 1

alternative conceptions of security are to be judged: how well d o these alter-

native views fit within and contribute to the purportedly objective neoreal-
ist categories, in particular the concern with violent interstate conflict? Not
surprisingly, as a result, environmental threats are not deemed security
issues. Although Levy (199Sa: 40-41) admits that it is possible to conceive
of "global security," he proceeds to define security as "national security" -
a situation in which threats t o a "nation's most important values" come
from the actions of "foreigners."
The political assumptions underlying neorealist security studies, however,
do not represent a neutral point against which alternative conceptions can be
judged. Levy's vision of security brings with it the sovereignist conception of
politics (and epistemology) outlined above. Moreover, it effectively makes
security synonymous with "citizenship": security comes from being a citizen,
"threats" are directed toward people qua citizens (that is, toward their states),
and the theory and practice of "security" strive to mitigate these threats
through concerted action by the citizens' representatives (Gray, 1992). Levy's
(199Sb: 44) subsequent claim that the "existential visions" of environmental
security have little chance of influencing the "conventional security agenda"
simply restates this foregone conclusion. The debate over whether "security"
should be broadened, therefore, takes on a circular character. Each side
appeals to "security" as something with an objective referent and source with-
out acknowledging that its position rests on prior commitments that are rarely
discussed. Disagreement is only explained as a result of empirical ignorance or
the intervention of subjective value commitments that skew understanding. As
a result, each side can endlessly accuse the other of politically motivated
myopia, and charges of ecological opportunism confront charges of statist
conservatism in an unresolvable cycle.
There is an important alternative position within this debate that is more
inclusionary. Even though it distances itself from a broad conception of
"security as individual well-being" and remains within the neorealist frame-
work of interstate security, this position still allows for a new conception of
threat. Researchers involved in projects on Environmental Change and Acute
Conflict and Environment, I'opulation, and Security have attempted to assess
the role of environmental scarcities in the outbreak of violent conflict
(Homer-Dixon, 199 1 , 1994). Gleick ( 1 993) and I.owi (1993), for example,
have placed access to, and control over, water within an expanded concep-
tion of "geopolitical" conflict. Likewise, studies of the communal conflict in
Rwanda (Percival and Homer-Dixon, 1995a), the relationship between urban
growth or migration and violence (Gizewski and Homer-Dixon, 1995; Howard
and Homer-Dixon, 1995), and the post-apartheid transition in South Africa
(Percival and Homer-Dixon, 199Sb) have sought to determine the extent to
which scarcity and varying forms of violent conflict are linked.
These studies move closer to the traditional concerns of security studies,
while reorienting analysis away from relations among the military forces of
states (and classical security dilemmas) to the underlying dynamics that can
serve as the sources of interstate conflict. Even though some (Levy, 1995b: 46)
142 Widening Security

have suggested that sophisticated analysts have been aware of these issues all
along, the innovations support Baldwin's (1995: 119, 125; see also Chipman,
1992) argument for a broader agenda on the grounds that the "the study of
national security grew more narrow and rigid during the Cold War than it
had been before," and that Cold War security studies "militarized the study
of security" in ways that occluded a rich tradition of thought on "the nature,
causes, effects and prevention of war." Yet, the results of this research have
been varied and inconclusive. In Rwanda, great scarcities did not seem sig-
nificant in the outbreak of conflict; in Chiapas, land maldistribution and
weakly enforced property rights were more important than environmental
scarcity per se. In other cases, the primary conflict was not between states but
within them. Even where environmental factors appeared causal (as in broader
patterns of migration and the emergence of conflicts), such factors seemed
linked to larger questions of political identity and regime legitimacy that chal-
lenge the state as the orthodox object of security (Homer-Dixon, 1994; Ayoob,
1995). Claims closest to neorealist concerns - that scarcity dynamics can lead
to the rise of "hard-core" authoritarian states more likely to attack their
neighbors - have become embroiled in theoretical disputes regarding causal-
ity and method (Homer-Dixon, 1994: 36-37). Although such research shows
that international and environmental factors can play a role in violent con-
flict, the links between environmental scarcity and interstate violence are far
from clear. Moreover, the question of the correct "object" of study (states or
peoples) remains contested even within this narrower agenda.
The debate over "environment and security" illustrates how the neoreal-
ist conception of security studies rests on a claim regarding the appropriate
referent object of security that both insulates it from seriously engaging
alternative formulations and forces the latter to be judged on neorealism's
terms. Unfortunately, alternative formulations are seldom explicit about the
need to come to terms with the important political assumptions that are at
the heart of neorealism. As a result, the debate remains pitched at a frus-
tratingly superficial level.

The Quest for Scientific Objectivity in Neorealist Security Studies

The aspiration to objective, scientific knowledge is crucial to neorealist secur-

ity studies. Indeed, it is the foundation for many neorealist critiques of alter-
native approaches. According to John Mearsheimer (1994195: 37-39, 41),
for example, neorealist security studies can be distinguished from "idealistic"
approaches by the fact that "realists maintain that there is an objective and
knowable world, which is separate from the observing individual." More crit-
ical approaches, Mearsheimer (1994195: 37-39, 41) argues, adopt an "any-
thing goes" attitude toward social science that can be seen as stemming from
the general tendency of nonrealist approaches (including institutional, crit-
ical, and other theories) to slide into pure idealism: the belief that ideas are
the driving force of history and easily malleable. Obviously, if neorealist
/,\I Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 143

scholarship can claim the mantle of science, it has a powerful preemptive

response to calls for refornlulating the research agenda of security studies.
But does research within the neorealist paradigm conform to this "scientific"
This section highlights some tensions (and contradictions) within the
neorealist literature that render rather problen~aticits foundational claim to
scientific objectivity. The section examines research o n alliance formation,
"offense-defense theory" (and related works), and recent attempts to the-
orize about nationalisnl and identity. Of particular interest are the problem
of interpretation as a validation strategy; the treatment of beliefs, inten-
tions, and perceptions; and the problematic status of identity groups as an
"object" of security.

Recent work on alliance formation represents a fruitful starting point for ana-
lyzing the "scientific objectivity" of security studies, particularly because the
scholars engaged in this work are explicitly committed to the developnlent of
parsimonious sets of deductive hypotheses that will provide "cumulative
knowledge," lead to "clear and more powerful theories, along with careful
attempts to test their validity" (Walt, 1992: 448-473), and permit "determin-
ate predictions at the foreign policy level" (Christensen and Snyder, 1990: 138).
Yet, these goals have proven controversial, even among scholars sharing simi-
lar perspectives.
Debate essentially revolves around whether or not a strict focus on the dis-
tribution of capabilities can capture the behavior of policymakers (Walt, 1985,
19873, 1992), whether bandwagoning or balancing behavior is more promin-
ent among states (and when) (Kaufnian, 1992; Labs, 1992; Schweller, 1994),
and whether or not the research on alliance formation ignores internal dimen-
sions of threat that apply especially to Third World states (David, 1991). A pre-
cise stipulation of the content of these debates is not crucial here; what is
important is bow well the empirical research meets the neorealist postulated
canons of science.
For example, how successful are scholars at classifying state actions as
either bandwagoning or balancing behavior in response to particular threats?
Walt (1992: 452) criticizes Kaufman (1992) for assuming "that the Nazi
threat was unambiguous and unmistakable as soon as Hitler came to power
in 1933," arguing that "the threat from Nazi Germany was anything but
obvious." A more conipiex answer to this question is presented by Schweller
(1994: 79), who proposes that Walt's definition of "bandwagoning" ("a
form of capitulation") is too narrow and status-quo oriented. This definition
led Walt to ignore alliance choices based on opportunities for gain and to
understate the occurrence of bandwagoning behavior. To support this claim,
Schweller constructs a classification of state behaviors that includes lions,
lambs, jackals, and wolves to describe differences in the willingness of states
to bear costs 3s they protect or extend their "possessions."4 He uses these
144 Widening Security

categories to classify state behavior across a wide historical period ranging

from Alexander the Great to Hitler, his allies, and his victims.
The problem is that these scholars are committed to a version of science
in which acts or policies have to be unambiguously and objectively identified
and classified (see King, Keohane, and Verba, 1994). In Schweller's case, this
process would require a clear specification of the rules of classification and
evidence for how he arrives at his four zoological categories of state action.
Likewise, Walt and Kaufman should be able to agree on what they will look
for to know whether a particular act represents a threat or not and whether
states are engaged in balancing or bandwagoning behavior. These scholars
could argue that greater precision and objective specification will be achieved
with time, but such is not the route that is generally taken. Instead, they con-
cede that even in principle their disagreement cannot be resolved in an object-
ive fashion; classification criteria are arbitrated within a community of
scholars who share common understandings that are not "objective." Thus,
Walt (1992: 452) argues that even though Kaufman's view may be "consis-
tent with the popular mythology of the interwar period, the scholarly litera-
ture does not support it."
If interpretations are ultimately the foundation of proper classification,
then the participants' understandings of whether or not they were "band-
wagoning" or "balancing," were "initiators" or "respondents," or had issued
threats or not (and of what kind) become critically important to the social sci-
entific task at hand. Schweller's transhistorical categories, for example, would
need to be grounded in the understandings actors have of how their social
world is organized lest they conceal ways of organizing that world that cut
across his four categories (or that would not be captured by them). As Peter
Winch (1957: 87) puts it:

whereas in the case of the natural scientist we have to deal with only one
set of rules, namely those governing the scientist's investigation itself,
here what the sociologist is studying ... is a human activity and is there-
fore carried on according to rules. And it is these rules, rather than those
which govern the sociologist's investigation, which specify what is to
count as "doing the same kind of thing." (emphasis in the original)

Studies of the ways in which policies are constructed, explained, and justified
are thus needed to validate the interpretations that scholars in neorealist secur-
ity studies advance (Milliken, 1995a). This use of interpretation to validate
theoretical propositions raises questions about the quest for transhistorical,
acontextual, generalizable theory.

Beliefs, Intentions, a n d Perceptions

The second issue - how we study beliefs, intentions, and perceptions -can be
illuminated by examining research on offense-defense theory, which claims
general applicability to situations ranging from ethnic conflicts in the former
, I , \\ I I I i Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 145

Yugoslavia (Posen, 1993b) to war in sixteenth-century Europe (Hopf, 1991).

Recent proponents assert that "the offense-defense balance can ... be incorpor-
ated into structural-realist theories of international politics," that its central
explanatory variable (as a theory of foreign policy) can be perceptions (Lynn-
Jones, 1995: 664, 682), and that "domestic and perceptual forces can be
cleanly plugged into parsimonious international system theories" (Christensen
and hyder, 1990: 144) as explanatory variables to account for different nl-
liance strategies. These scholars also argue (or accept) that the actual offense-
defense balance can be objectively specified (Hopf, 1991; Lynn-Jones, 1995:
66.5, 667). Leaving aside this question, the focus here is on the parallel
hypothesis that decision makers' sub;ective perceptions and beliefs about the
balance between offensive and defensive capabilities are accessible to schol-
ars and can be specified in a precise and objective fashion. There are at least
three problems with this proposal.
An initial problem is that perceptions, beliefs, and intentions are com-
plex individual and sociLz1attributes, not qualities possessed by a person-
ified construct called "the state" (see, for example, Sagan, 1994). Yet, this
introduces a ~lnit-levelfactor that violates Waltzian structuralism. This prob-
lem is not obviated by the response "that no Realist maintains that unit-
level factors exert no influence at all" (Walt, 1992: 473). But if unit-level
factors matter, it structures only "shape and shove," if "the shaping and
shoving of structures may be successfully resisted," and if "states affect the
system's structure even as it affects them" (Waltz, 1986b: 3 4 3 , 3 3 1 ), then the
scope for agency is wide and the explanatory power of structural accounts
is severely compromised. Indeed, the possibility that agents can change the
structures themselves (that is, transcend anarchy or the security dilemma)
seems to be excluded only by definitional fiat. More precisely, the assump-
tion that interests are exogenously determined excludes the chance that
"through interaction, states might form collective identities and interests,
redefining the terms" o f the security dilemma altogether (Wendt, 1994:
384). As Alexander Wendt points out, we cannot determine a priori
whether or not this assun~ptionis appropriate. We need to research it.
A second problem centers on the claim that beliefs and perceptions can
be treated as objectively specifiable variables. Despite including "intentions"
in his theory, Walt ( 19873: 263), for example, still argues that his goal is to
provide "greater explanatory power with equal parsimony" - as long as
intentions can bc measured (and aggregated) thro~tghrationalist methods.
One way of accomplishing such a result is by using "meaning-oriented behav-
ioralism" (Neufeld, 1993a), which treats beliefs, perceptions, and intentions
as intervening variables to be precisely specified in causal explanations. As
Mark Neufeld points out, however, such an enterprise requires careful tech-
niques and n~ethodologicalinnovations in areas such as content analysis,
survey design, and case-study strategies. Unfortunately, little of this concern
appears in security studies, even in areas linking psychology and deterrence,
in which arguments about individual beliefs and motivations have been
prominent (I.evy, 1989; for a n exception see DeNardo, 1995).
146 Widening Security

What is actually being studied here, however, is not individual beliefs and
intentions but collective meaning structures - shared understandings concern-
ing the nature of warfare, the goals of foreign policy, the potentials of existing
military technologies, and the limits of the politically and institutionally pos-
sible. Consider the evidence and analyses presented in discussions of the "cult
of the offensive." Neorealist scholars argue that the cult of the offensive (or
military doctrine in general) emerges from the organizationaVinstitutional
interests of professional military organizations that are not under civilian con-
trol (Snyder, 1984a, 1984b; Posen 1984);it derives from "the political object-
ives and alliance commitments of the great powers" (Sagan, 1986: 153);and it
has roots in the social stratification of European societies and social orders
(Van Evera, 1986: 95, 99-100). The evidence adduced for these claims comes
from the writings of major political and military figures, the contents of mili-
tary training manuals, examinations of general attitudes toward warfare and
the military profession, and discussions of the role of nationalist and imperial
myths in perpetuating social control.
"Meaning-oriented behaviorism," however, is not an appropriate method
for the study of the kinds of collective meanings invoked above. The role that
perceptions play in discussions of the offenseldefense balance bears a closer
resemblance to sociological and anthropological "thick descriptions" of the
practices, socialization, and "culture" of actors within social institutions -
whether narrowly military or more broadly political and societal. "Thick
description" is an interpretive research strategy (Geertz, 1973),not an empiri-
cistlrationalist one intended to reduce beliefs and perceptions to measurable
"units." Its goal is to offer an account of particular historical circumstances
and choices that is faithful to the understandings of participants and captures
the nuances in their positions and acts. Walt's (1992: 4 7 4 4 7 5 ) dissection of
Kaufman's (1992) rendition of interwar history - criticizing it for including
questionable characterizations of particular leaders' actions, sweeping state-
ments about domestic politics, and misreadings of policy choices and options
- points toward a commonsense use of thick description. Only rarely, how-
ever, do we find scholars who recognize how the need to make judgments of
this sort might affect the research strategy needed to validate their theoretical
claims. One exception in the offense-defense literature is Elizabeth Kier's
(1995) study, which explicitly situates her "culturalist" approach within
broader methodological debates - a rare admission of epistemological and
methodological pluralism.
A third set of problems focuses on the twin propositions that (1)beliefs
and perceptions only matter when we want to make determinate predictions
of foreign policies, and (2) the only issue of importance, therefore, is how
well the subjective perceptions of actors fit or clash with the underlying real-
ity of the situations. According to neorealists, for all intents and purposes
perceptions can be ignored by assuming that "states weigh options and make
policy decisions in a more-or-less rational fashion" (Walt, 1992: 473) because
an "ecological natural selection" process punishes those states and leaders who
I <II i \! I Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 147

deviate from this norm over the long run (Waltz, 1986a: 66-67; Christensen
and Snyder, 1990: 140, 142-1 43; Posen, 1993a: 82).
The idea that perceptions either fit or clash with reality (which ultim-
ately punishes errors) does not take into account the role of perceptions and
beliefs in constructing the social world in which actors make choices and
act. Consider Walt's ( I 987a: 263) refinement of balance-of-power theory,
which argues that policymakers "balance againat the states that pose the
greatest threat," whether or not these are the most powerful states in the
system. Threats here are not objectively specifiable in the same sense that
capabilities are because they include offensive intentions (Walt, 198.5: 9).
Once we deviate from a tight linkage to capabilities, however, we move into
a constructed world. Indeed, the world of interests, threats, and intentions
requires an understanding of history, culture, ideologies, and related factors
(O'Tuathail, 1993; Weldes, 1993, forthcoming). In principle, the absence of
threatening intentions could allow actors to override completely the suspi-
cions that would be generated (in a pure Waltzian world) from capabilities,
opening the way for a whole range of resolutions to the security dilemma.
Such a proposition might explain why post-1945 Western Europe did not
balance against the United States, or why the U.S. Pentagon is not con-
cerned about British and French nuclear weapons. Here we become inter-
ested in the construction of the Western Alliance security community, for
which competing accounts can be offered that run counter to neorealist
arguments (Lhlby, 1988, 1990; Klein, 1990; Adler and Rarnett, 1996).

The rise in ethnic and nationalist conflicts has put the question of what (or
whom) is being secured (and from what) back on the agenda of security
studies. Neorealist scholars propose that questions of identity (and interest)
formation can be analytically suspended (Wendt, 3 992: 392, 1994: 384)
because they change relatively slowly or hecome "solidified" during cir-
cumstances of conflict and war (Kaufmann, 1996: 153). As a result, the
challenge posed by identity conflicts is resolved by integrating the issues
raised by ethnicity and nationalism into neorealist foundations without
reopening thorny epistemological or ontological questions.
Steven Van Evera's (1994) "hypotheses on nationalism and war" and
Barry Posen's (1993b)work on ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia illus-
trate with clarity this process. Both face the challenge o f explaining the ge:erz-
esis of nationalism within an approach that treats social actors as giucn and
their ideational origins as exogenous. Dynamics of political identity are dealt
with through an objectivist epistemology; identity groups are conceived of
methodologically as individuals who simply replace states as the new objects
of security analysis. These analytic constructs are then cast back into the
neorealist dynamics of anarchy and the security dilemma vis-a-vis other
"actors." The idea that taking questions of identity seriously may require a
148 Widening Security

different understanding of group formation and interaction is never raised.

Each author's treatment, however, suggests why such questions need to be
Van Evera (1994: 6) proposes to generate a series of testable hypotheses
about nationalism by leaving aside the question of its origins, treating it as
an empirical fact and defining it as a political movement in which members
give their primary loyalty to their own ethnic or national community and
desire an independent state. Despite his interest in treating nationalism as
an existing fact, however, Van Evera is forced to account for how political
movements emerge in order to explain the link between nationalism and
war. Given that not all these emergent nationalisms exist yet, he has to dis-
cuss the conditions under which they will arise.
The basis of nationalism seems to be preexisting lirtguistic groups. As Van
Evera (1994: 11)notes, many of the more than six thousand such groups that
have been identified "have dormant or manifest aspirations for statehood."
The question of why some of these groups emerge as nationalist movements
and others do not is answered in terms of the central state's ability to exer-
cise its power and prevent their emergence. Thus, "if nationalism is unattain-
able it may not even appear: the captive nation will submerge the nationalist
thought ... [Nlationalism is in part simply a function of capability: it emerges
where it can" (Van Evera, 1994: 16). Yet, this formulation raises significant
dilemmas for understanding the relationship between nationalism and secur-
ity, at least within an empiricist conception of knowledge. Simply put, if
nationalism does not appear, then how do we know "it" is there and that "it"
is only held in abeyance by other powers? If the "thought" has been sub-
merged, how do we know it is still there to reemerge when circumstances
allow, or, indeed, that it was ever there in the first place? Further, the idea of
preexisting primordial ethnic or national communities appears to miss the
point: nationalism is about the creation of these communities (or loyalty to
them). Moreover, if one views all groups as latently nationalistic (and, hence,
as sources of mutual insecurity), it is difficult to understand the dynamics of
multiethnic states in which ethnicllinguistic groups do not see themselves in
nationalistic terms and, instead, commit themselves to the legitimacy (and
perpetuation) of the existing political order.
Posen's (1993a) analysis of the relationship between nationalism and war
represents another attempt to address some of these problems. Nationalism,
he argues, should be understood in the context of the historical development
of mass armies and the necessity for states to be able to raise such armies to
survive. The adoption of nationalism and nationalistic institutions is caused by
the pressures of the international system: by the existence of other states that
have adopted such ideas and institutions and can now (threateningly) use them
to mobilize mass armies (Posen, 1993a: 82, 84, 122). As a result, states are
forced to adopt similar policies or fall by the wayside. As Posen (1993a: 81)
argues, "It is not merely coincidental that nationalism seems to cause intense
warfare; I argue that it is purveyed by states for the express purpose of improv-
ing their military capabilities" (see also Mearsheimer, 1990: 12,25). To test this
I ,I I , Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 149

hypothesis, Posen examines the French-PrussiadGerman relationship between

the end of the eighteenth century and World War I. Nationalistic educational,
cultural, and political transformations were tied in significant ways to the need
to raise mass armies in response to the abilities of other states to d o so. "Elites"
drew on nationalism to generate the military capabilities such an emotional
climate made possible: mass armies of highly motivated soldiers backed by a n
entire social structure that could be mobilized for war. Posen's rich and
nuanced analysis contains valuahle insights, but it falls short on several counts
as a compelling neorealist synthesis of the connections among nationalism,
war, and society.
First, as Lapid and Kratochwil (1996) have argued, Posen' approach
does not develop the concept nationalism ( o r ethnicity). Rather, nationalism
is considered a consequence of state ( o r elite) choices and needs in their
struggle for survival. It is reduced t o a f t l ~ z c t i oof
~ state power. Once again
nationalism is treated as a preexisting "fact," as a social resource for entre-
preneurs t o draw on in consolidating state ( o r their o w n ) power. But where
did this "fact" come from? Even leaving aside the extreme instrumentalism
of this view, Posen's historical analysis focuses on what Benedict Andcrson
( 1 9 8 3 ) has termed "official nationalism." For this political resource t o be
available for nlobilization, however, a series of prior transformations has t o
have taken place. The role of these transformations (such as the rise of print
culture) in creating the modern world is assumed rather than understood in
Posen's analysis. Why, for example, did elites not appeal t o concepts of civ-
ilization, empire, o r religion, and what difference might such appeals have
made? More important, how can we invoke notions of "hypernationalism"
to explain contemporary conflict dynamics (Mearslleirner, 1990: 20-21) while
leaving aside questions concerning identity formation and the emergence and
continued vitality of nationalism?
Second, Posen's discussion of an interactive relationship between domestic
and international politics does not demonstrate the validity of a "structural
realist" explanation. A similar stress on the relational element in international
politics is also at the core of analyses that stand outside the neorealist position.
Eric Ringmar ( 199S), for example, puts relational dynamics at the heart of his
understanding of Sweden's expansionist military policy in the seventeenth cen-
tury. But the relationship he adduces is the Swedish desire for "recognition"
(in the Hegelian sense) in the eyes of other states rather than in any neorealist
structural imperative. Posen's historical rendition is also close to certain socio-
logical perspectives (Giddens, 1987; Shaw, 1993). In short, taking account of
relational dynamics in security policy does not commit one to a structuralist
perspective; taking these dynamics seriously can lead to consideration of forms
of analysis that neorealist security studies usually rejects.
Finally, I'osen's vision of nationalism re-evokes long-standing issues of
change a n d agency in neorealist analysis. Within his formulation, the pos-
sibility for change is obscured by the eternal r e c ~ ~ r r e n cofe neorealist struc-
turalism. Despite the massive social transformations surrounding the rise of
nationalism, imperialisni, mass armies, and the niodern democratic state,
150 Widening Security

things in essence remain the same. Interstate relations, and their propensity
for conflict, are determined by structures not by any social or political
changes within states or cultures, no matter how profound they may seem.
This view cannot, by definition, conceive of shifting identities that could
allow greater cooperation or broader structures of identification (such as
"Europe") linking people and groups in ever-widening forms of political
order (Mearsheimer, 1994195). The contemporary implications of this pos-
ition become clear at the end of Posen's analysis. Because nationalism is a
consequence of insecurity and insecurity is tied to the threat that other states
pose, decreases in nationalism and conflict are attributable to decreases in
the threat posed by mass armies. The reduction in West European national-
ism (and conflict) is, thus, attributable to the American nuclear umbrella.
Hence, nuclear disarmament could have negative consequences, and nuclear
proliferation could be beneficial (Posen, 1993a: 124). Other options for over-
coming the security dilemma are viewed as hopelessly "idealistic."

The Construction a n d Practice of "Securitization"

As observed in the previous discussion, a productive dialogue among students

of security studies is only made possible by acknowledging the thorny prob-
lems of knowledge, interpretation, and historiography that are associated
with all research efforts. The last task in this essay review is to examine and
critique some recently proposed alternative approaches to security studies
that engage these concerns directly. The goals are twofold. First, the review
describes a literature in security studies that moves away from neorealist for-
mulations in directions that could be called "critical" or "constru~tivist."~
Rather than treating states, groups, or individuals as givens that relate object-
ively to an external world of threats created by the security dilemma, these
approaches stress the processes through which individuals, collectivities, and
threats become constructed as "social facts" and the influence of such con-
structions on security concerns. As Wendt (1995: 81) observes, the goal is "to
analyze how processes of interaction produce and reproduce the social struc-
tures - cooperative or conflictual - that shape actors' identities and interests
and the significance of their material contexts." Second, the review shows
that, contrary to claims that "the distinguishing feature of the critical theory
literature ... is its lack of empirical content" (Mearsheimer, 1995: 92), there
is a rich and interesting research program under way, albeit in its early stages.
Two exemplary literatures are discussed: (1)research on societal security, and
(2) research on the social construction of threats.
In the process of doing research on new conceptions of who or what is
being secured, from what threats, and by what means, many scholars have
found themselves challenging the core foundations of the neorealist pos-
ition. It is important to note, however, that not all these scholars oppose all
elements of the neorealist position. Scholars such as Barry Buzan, Charles
Jones, and Richard Little (1993), for example, have contributed greatly to
I , I \\ I Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 151

advancing the logic of Waltzian structural realism, while others, specifically

Wendt ( 1995: 75) and Michael Barnett (1992), "fully endorse the scientific
project of falsifying theories against evidence." Still others argue that a
commitment to an interpretive method does not imply rejection of the idea
that there are better or worse interpretations - only a rejection of the idea
that these are arbitrated against some external "reality" rather than against
social actors' understandings of their world.
The basic claims of the critical and constructivist approaches are that
"security" is not an objective condition, that threats to it are not simply a
matter of correctly perceiving a constellation of material forces, and that
the object of security is not stable or unchanging. Instead, questions about
how the object to be secured (nation, state, or other group)
- . is constituted,

and how particular issues (cconomic well-being, the risk of violence, envir-
onmental degradation) are placed under the "sign of security" become cen-
tral. "Security" (especially, "national security") is understood as a particular
set of historical discourses and practices that rest upon institutionally shared
understandings. The research goal is to study the process by which threats
are represented politically: to examine "who can 'do' or 'speak' security
successfully, on what issues, under what conditions, and with what effects ...
[Wlhat is essential is the designation of an existential threat ... and the
acceptance of that designation by a significant audience" (Waever, 1995a: 4).
The concept and usage of "national" (or state) security is not rejected as
either outmoded or in need of transcendence; instead, it is taken seriously
as a n important historical resolution to central problems of political life
(Weldes, 1996).
From a methodological perspective, three propositions appear to form the
core of these alternative approaches to security studies and to differentiate
them from neorealism:

1. O u r knowledge about the subjects, structures, and practices of world

politics is not "objective" (in the materialist sense of neorealism) because
no straight-forwardly objective world exists separate from its collective
construction by observers or actors.
2. Interpretive methods that examine actors' practical understandings of
the o r g a n ~ ~ a t l oofn (and p o s s ~ b ~ l ~for
t ~ echang~ng)
s t h e ~ social
r world are
central to dolng research.
3. The purpose of theory 1s not to search for p r e d ~ c t ~ own~ t h i nthe context
of determ~nate,transh~stor~cal, and generalizable causal c l a ~ m sbut rather
contextual understdnd~ngand practical knowledge.

These issues are addressed in different ways within these emerging bodies
of research. But this lack of methodological unity should not be taken either
as a n easy excuse for dismissal or as evidence of the intrinsic strength of the
neorealist enterprise. Obviously, scholarship in these new research pro-
grams will fail to stand up if measured against the standard of neorealist
security studies. But oncc the scientific aspirations of neorealism are called
152 Widening Security

into question, alternative approaches can be judged on their own terms, and
the issues raised by (and between) these alternatives can be examined seri-
ously as a stimulus to critical reflection in the field.

Identity, Society, and Societal Security

For Buzan, Ole Waever, and others involved with the "Copenhagen School"
(McSweeney, 1996), a crucial starting point for restructuring security stud-
ies is the distinction between state and society. They argue that security
studies needs to adopt an understanding of the "duality" of security: that it
combines state security, which is concerned with sovereignty, and societal
secuvity, which is concerned with identity (Waever et al., 1993: 25). Societal
security takes into account the origins, structures, and dynamics of collect-
ive identity formation (Neumann, 1996a) and the connection between iden-
tities and interests (and threats to them) (Wendt, 1994). "At its most basic,
social identity is what enables the word 'we' to be used" as a means by
which to identify collectively the "thing" to be secured (Waever et al., 1993:
17). But "society," as used by these scholars, cannot be reduced to an
aggregation of individuals nor made synonymous with the state because to
do so would risk misunderstanding many of the most salient contemporary
security dynamics. It is not simply the identities of states that are con-
structed, but the entire set of practices that designates the object to be
secured, the threats it is to be secured from, and the appropriate responses
to these threats.
In ethnonationalist conflicts, for example, competing claims to sover-
eignty, rather than the competition between existing sovereignties, often
provide the source of conflict. What people are attempting to secure is an
idea. Even though material elements are still important, such conflicts can-
not be reduced to the competing interests among pre-given political objects.
These conflicts are about the creation of these objects and the way in which
different identities are developed (Anderson, 1983). The case of Macedonian
identity, as Hikan Wiberg explains it, is suggestive (from Waever et al.,
1993: 107):

to the extent identity is anchored in language, Bulgaria is the main

threat: it regards Macedonian as a Bulgarian dialect ... To the extent it
is anchored in religion, the Serbs are the main threat: the Macedonian
church [is] still under the Serb patriarchate ... To the extent it is
anchored in statehood, the Albanian minority will not accept
Macedonians defining themselves as the state carrying people. When it
is defined by territory and history, the Greeks object strongly.

Likewise, Ukrainian nationalism takes some of its force from a denial of

a shared origin with Russians in the original "Kievan rus." "[Flor Ukrainian
nationalists, the Russians are imposters and pretenders only ... [Yet,] Russian
nationalists tend not to recognize Ukrainians as a nation at all, but regard
i t r \ I I Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 153

them as 'polonised' - corrupted - Russians" (Pierre Lemaitre in Waever et al.,

1993: 112). Russian-Ukrainian security relations are not just about economic
relations, the Black Sea fleet, the status of the Crimea, nuclear weapons on
Ukrainian soil, or the possibility of forceful reintegration with Russia. By
reconstructing the identity relationship, we gain a different understanding
about some of the sources of reciprocal threats and the possible avenues for
( o r difficulties in) overcoming them. Like the neorealist analyses discussed
above (Mearsheimer, 1990: 56; Posen, 1993b: 44), this research stresses the
importance of history in the construction of national identities, but it also
holds that interests cannot be postulated as prior to identities and that iden-
tities themselves are ~zot fixed in time but are relationally constructed
(Neumann, 1996a, 1996b).
A stress on identity and society as flexible constructs allows us to examine
the integrative dynamics under way, for example, in Europe currently. Stress
solely on states and the security dilemma makes such research unnecessary or
inconiprehensible (Mearsheimer, 1990). The push of states for integration in
the European Union may be seen as jeopardizing the security of significant
parts of their societies (either economically or culturally). Thus, state action
can be interpreted as creating societal insecurity. Conversely, societal resistance
can threaten the authority of the state or its ability to carry out its policies. But
as long as both state action and societal resistance are studied as political prac-
tices, they are in principle subject to evolution and change. This approach pro-
vides researchers with a way of understanding the possibility of changes in
security relations among communal groups.
The attempts by the Copenhagen School to incorporate "societal secur-
ity" into the security studies agenda have generated some criticism. At the
heart of the challenges is the claim that making society synonymous with
identity risks reifying both society and identity and, in the process, losing a
critical purchase on security as a political practice. Lapid and Kratochwil
(1996: 1 1 8-120), for example, argue that by equating identity with "soci-
ety" Buzan, Waever, and their collaborators create the foundation for yet
another variant of statism and the neorealist structuralism they want to
transcend. Bill McSweeny ( I 996: 85) has voiced a similar concern: that by
asserting the link between society and identity, "identity" becomes, by def-
inition, the security concern of a "society." The important questions of how
a society comes to conceive of its identity and its security can be neither
asked nor answered. Both society and identity become fixed objects, and, as
a result, impervious to critical analysis and an understanding of their inter-
nal dynamics. "Identity describes the society, and society is constituted by
identity ... Societal identity just is. We are stuck with it. There is no way we
can replace it, except hy adopting multiple identities, each o f which is, in
principle, as inviolable as the next" (McSweeney, 1996: 87).
The practical implications of this criticism can be seen by considering
research on new security issues such as migration (Heishourg, 199 1; Larabee,
1992; Weiner, 1992193; Waever et id.,1993). A central theme of this research
concerns the security of a society's "cultural and national identity" in the
154 Widening Security

face of large-scale population movements. What is threatened here is the

very cultural identity that neorealist understandings take as primordial.
Security is no longer an "objective" condition but "a social construct with
different meanings in different societies"; a "security threat ... is often a
matter of perception" and "perceptions of risk change" (Weiner, 1992193:
95, 110-111). Not surprisingly from this perspective, "different states and
nations have different thresholds for defining threats: Finns are concerned
about immigration at a level of 0.3% foreigners, where Switzerland func-
tions with 14.7%" (Waever, 1995a: 3). A central task of security analysis
becomes determining how these threat thresholds are defined as well as how
they change as a result of different state policies and political practices.
There is nothing mechanistic (or "causal") about this process. For example,
in the post-1945 period, the crystallization of the welfare state as part of
European "identity" appears to have subtly changed the way in which
migrants are integrated into communities, and increased the perception of
the threat they pose to these communities (Waever et al., 1993: 153-162).
If identity is made a concern of security, then who judges "what counts
as the parameters of collective identity, and by what criteria must judgments
be made" (McSweeney, 1996: 88)? What, for example, can be said against
LePen's declarations that migrants (or "foreigners") are threats to French
(societal) security? An unease over these kinds of issues pervades discus-
sions of migration and security. Despite noting the "socially constructed"
nature of security, Weiner (1992193: I l l ) , for example, warns that it is neces-
sary to separate racist or xenophobic paranoia from legitimate concerns,
implying that one can distinguish between a "perceived" security threat and
a "genuine conflict of interest" Similarly, Waever (1995b: 65-66) argues
that "if this area is securitized in an unsophisticated way, its effect can easily
be to legitimize reactionary arguments for defining migrants as security prob-
lems and presenting nations as threatened by Europeanization." Likewise,
Jef Huysmans (1995) contends that treating security in terms of identity,
and migrants as threats to it, risks concretizing identity, radicalizing the
issue, and legitimizing violence against migrants. These concerns illustrate
some of the ethical and practical questions raised by an alternative view of
security. Even if we treat the realist raison d'Ctat as only one possible dis-
course, it still needs to be weighed against alternatives that are not self-
evidently more peaceful (Mearsheimer, 1995). None of these concerns has
an easy resolution; they deserve serious discussion by parties with a variety
of perspectives.

Constructing Threats and R e s p o n s e s

How are threats defined and constructed? In other words, how, from the wel-
ter of information and interaction among states and their representatives, are
threats constructed and mobilized against? Most research on this question has
focused on the American construction of the "Soviet threat." Bradley Klein's
(1990; see also Nathanson, 1988) analysis of major documents surrounding
, I t Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies I 55

the early Cold War and the creation of NATO shows that capabilities played
hardly any role in the assessment of the Soviet threat. "[Wlhat carried the day,
in the absence of reliable intelligence estimates, was a series of discursively
constructed claims about the nature of the Soviet totalitarian state and about
its implacable global purposes" (Klein, 1990: 313).Jennifer Milliken's ( 1995b)
study of the Korean War highlights the effort involved within Western pol-
icy circles to construct the North Korean invasion o f the South as part o f a
Moscow-led aggressive expansionism and not as an internecine struggle
among Koreans. Both these works parallel some of the postrevisionist schol-
arship on the origins of the Cold War emphasizing the effort involved in cre-
ating an American consensus over its international role (Caddis, 1982; Leffler,
1992). Simon Dalby's (1990) book focuses on the construction of the Second
Cold War and analyzes the uses made by the American Committee on the
Present Danger (and associated advocates) of geopolitical logic, historical
determinism, and nuclear war-fighting logic to construct a series of interlocked
arguments for the military buildup and European nuclear deployments that
characterized the Reagan presidency. This analysis of threat construction
directly challenges the argument that the "end of ditente" was inevitable. The
post-Cold War threat environment has also provided fertile ground for crit-
ical analysis, as in David Mutimer's (forthcoming) examination of the way in
which the metaphorical and linguistic construction of a "proliferation threat"
for the United States (and its alliance partners) has been used to mobilize
resources aimed at dismantling the Iraqi nuclear, chemical, and biological
weapons programs; to isolate North Korea over its possible nuclear weapons
program; to create an activist "counterproliferation" policy within the Clinton
administration; and to mobilize support for the development of ballistic mis-
sile defenses.
A second line of research tackles the way in which appropriate responses
to the threats are constructed in security policymaking. Most attention in this
area has been focused on deterrence and arms control policies. Emanuel
Adler (1992) examined how the arms control "epistemic community" that
emerged in the United States after the Cuban missile crisis charted a path out
of the sterile debates over "disarmament" of the previous period and gener-
ated cooperative security policies hetween the superpowers. Others (Chilton,
1985; Chhn, 1987; Luke, 1989; Mehan, Nathanson, and Skelly, 1990) have
studied the elaboration and implementation of nuclear deterrence policies,
drawing attention to the linguistic construction of the nuclear debate and the
ways in which weapons were "normalized" or opponents trivialized in order
to promote particular nuclear deterrence policies.
Security policies also involve the securing of the stable identity of entities.
David Campbell (1992), for example, argues that threats need to be under-
stood in part as powerful elements in securing a society's collective identity
in an essentially rootless modern world. According to Campbell (1992: 54),
"the state requires discourses of 'danger' to provide a new theology of truth
about who and what 'we' are by highlighting who or what 'we' are not,
and what 'we' have to fear." Likewise, Iver Neumann and Jennifer Welsh
I56 Widening Security

(1991; see also Neumann, 1996b) have examined the way in which "Europe"
was constituted in relation to a "Turkish other" from which it needed to be
secured; Karin Fierke (forthcoming) has explored how the end of the Cold
War provoked a rearticulation of the political categories through which
identities and threats had been articulated within Europe.
All these authors are concerned with how questions. How was an
American or Western interest in opposing so-called Soviet expansionism
created and what forces did it mobilize? How did the language of nuclear
deterrence operate to tame these weapons and exclude particular options
for dealing with them? How do different discourses construct "others" as
the source of threats? The most common objection raised to all this research
is that constructions operate as simple glosses over the "real interests" that
lie behind "the veil of facts." The response to this complaint is a complex
one. All these authors challenge, for example, the neorealist argument that
the way in which the confrontation between East and West unfolded was
inevitable, that the construction of the Soviet threat was merely the public
gloss on the operation of real interests in great power clashes, and that the
particular form this confrontation took was unimportant to an under-
standing of its causes and consequences. Hence, the researchers go beyond
a demonstration of the constructed nature of threat discourses to show how
these constructions could have been different given the concrete historical
circumstances in which political choices were made. These arguments are
not purely of the idealist "if only" kind; they evince a clear concern with
the conditions of contemporary policy choices.
Scholars in the constructivist tradition often seek to shift the grounds of
debate to a pragmatic political or discursive perspective in order to avoid
determining what security "actually is" precisely because they view security
as a convention (Dalby, 1992, forthcoming; Waever 1995b). The thrust of
their arguments concerning the "practice of security" presumes that the
process of constructing a meaningful discourse of threats is not politically
neutral. Thus, one ought to question whether or not the construction of a
articular "problem" as a "threat" is desirable. As Daniel Deudney (1990)
has observed, for example, making the environment a national security issue
may subvert the goal that proponents of this change seek to achieve.
Environmental issues pose significant and pressing dangers, but placing them
on the security agenda means subsuming them within concepts and institu-
tions of state security (that is, military responses against a particular "target")
that are unlikely to further the agenda of "environmental security" (Deudney,
1990; Matthew, 1995: 19). In a similar vein, Kaufmann (1996) indicates that
identities (and threats to them) cannot be changed by a simple act of will or
wishful thinking; under extreme circumstances (such as communal war), the
boundaries of identities can be hardened and thickened in ways that exacer-
bate conflict and make creative resolutions difficult if not impossible. The
question of the relationship of theory to practice in alternative approaches to
security studies is central here, as is the issue of the political processes through
which policies and practices can be modified or altered.
Krdii'. II td \\ i I l l i r i l 5 Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 157


This review essay does not claim to cut the Gordian knot into which con-
temporary security studies has tied itself. The conlplex methodological and
political issues raised above touch on every branch of security studies (and
its current political relevance). Moreover, they reflect concerns that are not
limited to this small outpost of social science. Nor can these issues be
resolved simply by declaring that alternative approaches to security studies
are little more than the expression of postmodern nihilism (Mearsheimer,
1994195: 39-41) and withdrawing to the supposedly safer harbors of theor-
etical and political orthodoxy. This review has attempted to show that
despite the analytic divides that appear to demarcate different approaches
to security studies, the various approaches actually share a number of the
same problems. Such a statement does not mean that different approaches
are commensurable, but it does suggest a need for all scholars to consider
seriously the issues central to approaches other than their own.
It cannot be underscored enough that neorealists and their challengers
"see" a different world. The former see, over the past several centuries of
world politics (and perhaps before), a ceaseless repetition of con~petition
among political units for power in a world of suspicion and insecurity.
As Steven Krams and Mark Kilgour (1988: viii) note, "[Tlrue, the world is
confusing, but considerable order and stability often can be found below
the surface ... This search for order is the hallmark o f scientific inquiry;
without it ... there could not be a coherent intellectual understanding of the
regularities we observe." Unfortunately, when claims to transhistorical con-
tinuity and generalizability are examined closely, they often turn out to rest
upon tendentious or implausible readings of history that are little better
than Whig or Toynhee-esque (Schroeder, 1994, 1995; Elman and Elman,
1995). The latter scholars see in the tapestry of recent world history vari-
ation, change, and contingency. For them, the rise and decline of absolutism,
the advent of modern nationalism and iniperialism, the emergence of claims
for self-determination and decolonization, and the more recent influence of
ideas of democracy and human rights have all embedded the interaction of
political units in a complex web that gives ~ r a c t i c a land shifting content to
their understandings of interests. It is no accident that researchers within
this more historicist tradition do not regard positivist methods and apodic-
tic prediction as the hallmarks of social understanding.
There are, however, at least two reasons for stopping short of the impli-
cation of this argument and claiming that competing accounts are simply
incommensurable and irreconcilahle (Neufeld, 1993b). The first is thc "div-
ision of labor" argument, presented most straightforwardly in the distinction
between "why" and "how" questions - "with explaining why particular
decisions resulting in specific courses of action were made" versus with
understanding "hozu the subjects, objects, and interpretive dispositions were
socially constructed such that certain practices were made possible" (Doty,
1993: 298, emphasis hers; see also Hollis and Smith, 1991). "How" clues-
158 Widening Security

tions are in some senses prior to "why" questions: before particular courses
of action can be selected (and thus explained), the range of possible or plaus-
ible options has to be constructed and scholars have to understand the way
in which certain options acquire meaning or value. In security studies, this
process involves ascertaining how the nature (and source) of threats is con-
structed, the "object" being secured, and the possibilities for reinforcing,
ameliorating, or even overcoming "security dilemmas." Neorealist approaches
take all these issues as givens. An enlarged conception of security studies
needs to make room for both sorts of research agendas. Without both "how"
and "why" research, we are not adequately "explor[ing] the conditions that
make the use of force more likely, the ways that the use of force affects indi-
viduals, states and societies, and the specific policies that states adopt in order
to prepare for, prevent, or engage in war" (Walt, 1991: 212).
The inability of neorealist security studies to meet (even in principle) the
standard of science to which it aspires should also moderate rejection of the
more interpretive scholarship that informs approaches concerned with "how"
questions. Of course, there are thorny methodological problems that bedevil
interpretation as well (some interpretations are always more plausible, coher-
ent, and convincing than others), but the "truth value" of the claims is arbi-
trated within a social context. The neglect by neorealist security studies
scholars of the crucial role that interpretation plays in their own arguments
and the implication this has for their claims to objectivity is difficult to
explain, except, perhaps, by their eagerness to gain the disciplining power con-
veyed by the mantle of science. Ultimately security studies research would be
enhanced by a more direct engagement with the difficult issues associated
with historical interpretation. Such would certainly seem more preferable
than claiming to be "wary of the counterproductive tangents that have
seduced other areas of international studies" (Walt, 1991: 223) or preserving
the coherence of neorealist theory by tautological and definitional fiat (Hall
and Kratochwil, 1993; Kratochwil, 1993; Schroeder, 1995). None of the pos-
itions in this debate has yet found the epistemological or methodological grail.
The second reason for not claiming that the various schools of thought in
security studies are incommensurable and irreconcilable is that all security
studies scholars are engaged in intensely practical and political projects,
whether these are defined as "policy relevant knowledge" or "praxis." On the
one hand, it is not the case that alternative approaches,
- - whether addressing-
new issues such as migration and nationalism or old issues such as deterrence
and arms control, court political irrelevance or are "diverted into a prolix and
self-indulgent discourse that is divorced from the real world" as some
(Walt, 1991: 223) have argued. This statement would be true only if one holds
a truncated view of politics that sees the relevant actors in the process of defin-
ing security as states and their policymakers (supported, of course, by appro-
priate academic experts) and believes that scholarship should "concentrate on
manipulable variables, on relationships that can be altered by deliberate acts
of policy" (Walt, 1991: 212, emphasis his). Even neorealist scholars like
Mearsheimer, Van Evera, and Posen have noted that important aspects of
conflictual relationships include the creation and perpetuation of national
/ ( I , (1 \ ,I1 Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies 159

myths (through education, for example), symbolic gestures (threatening or

otherwise), and political rhetoric. Such factors are manipulable variables in
only a loose and indirect sense, yet they are the stuff of security in contempor-
ary world politics. O n the other hand, the concern that neorealist scholarship
has with the central role of organized violence in shaping our political world
is something that scholars using alternative approaches to security studies
must address seriously. Institutions o f , ideas about, and instruments o f organ-
ized violence play a central role in domestic and international political life and
cannot be wished away. Likewise, if the processes of "securitization" can have
dark sides (as in the migration and security debate), then even scholars using
critical analysis cannot escape the question: How should security studies he
used in the world of political practice?
Coming full circle, should the agenda of security studies be "broadened"
or "restricted" to meet the intellectual and practical challenges of the
post-Cold War world? Critics could object that the arguments for methodo-
logical pluralism presented here will neither maintain disciplinary coherence
nor generate a "progressive research program." This review actually suggests
a paradoxical response: It may be necessary to broaden the agenda of secur-
ity studies (theoretically and n~ethodologically)in order to narrow the agenda
of secztrity. A more profound understanding of the forces that create political
loyalties, give rise to threats, and designate appropriate collective responses
could open the way to what Waever (199%) has usefully termed "desecuri-
tization" -the progressive removal of issues from the security agenda as they
are dealt with via institutions and practices that do not implicate force, vio-
lence, or the "security dilemma." There is nothing inevitable or idealistic
about this idea. Contemporary political debates over the enlargement and
restructuring of NATO, the appropriate preventive responses to nascent com-
niunal conflicts, and the imperatives of dealing with rapid environmental
change all suggest that policymakers engage daily with the complexities and
possibilities of "security" in a broad sense. Rather than calling for a restric-
tion of its theoretical agenda, the field of security studies needs to pursue
these issues and debates with even more energy and with an openness that
will, in turn, foster intellectual development and political engagement with
the dynamics of contemporary world politics.


1. O u r thanks to Lene H,lnsen, lenniter Milliken, Thomas Schmalherger, and the reviewers
and editors of the Mershon Internirtion~rlStudzes Revieto for helpful comments o n this essay.
2. Scholars who d o not tit neatly Into these categories include Edward Azar and Chung-in
Mooti ( 1988) and Mohammed Ayoob ( 1995).
3. Insofar ,ls debate ha\ focused o n neorealist securlty studies, it has C L I ~ I ~ L I S Ignored
I~ a
large nonrealisr literature - ~ncludlngcognitive, organiration;ll, and cybernetic ,ippronches, as
well as the l i t e r a t ~ ~ on
r e ciome\tic \ourcrs o f strategy (see, for example, Jervis, Lehow, and S t e ~ n
1985; Barnett and Levy 199 1 ; Rarnett 1992; Rosrcrance and Stein 1993; Sagan 1994; Smoke
1996).\r willingness t o l o o k heyond neorc,ilist security studies might strengthen the arguments
of the crit~cs.
160 Widening Security

4. Lions are "states that will pay high costs to protect what they possess but only a small
price to increase what they value"; lambs "will pay only low costs to defend or extend their val-
ues"; jackals "will pay high costs to defend their possessions but even greater costs to extend
their values"; and wolves "are predatory states [that] value what they covet far more than what
they possess" (Schweller 1994: 101-103).
5. We use the labels "critical" and "constructivist" loosely in this review, acknowledging
that the very term critical contains no connotations that link it extricably to either a positivist
or reconstructive approach. Thus, it may allow both proponents and opponents to stop at the
theoretical level, without reflecting on the practical implications of scholarship. It is also worth
noting that few of the scholars mentioned in what follows appear in Mearsheimer's (1994195)
review of "critical theory" and international relations.


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Collective Identity in a Democratic Community:
The Case of NATO
Thomas Risse-Kappen

The Puzzle

hy was it that the United States, the undisputed superpower of
the early post-1945 period, found itself entangled in the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with Western Europe only
four years after the end of World War II? Why was it that a pattern of cooper-
ation evolved in NATO that survived not only the ups and downs of the Cold
War and various severe interallied conflicts - from the 1956 Suez crisis to the
conflict over Euromissiles in the 1980s - but also the end of the Cold War?
Why is it that NATO has emerged as the strongest among the post-Cold War
security institutions - as compared to the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the West European Union (WEU), not even
to mention the EU'S Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)?
Traditional (realist) alliance theory1 at least has a simple answer to the
first two questions: the Soviet threat. But what constituted the Soviet threat?
Was it Soviet power, ideology, behavior, or all three combined? I argue in this
essay that the notion of the "Soviet threat" needs to be unpacked and prob-
lematized if we want to understand what it contributed to the emergence and
the endurance of NATO. I also claim that realism might provide first-cut
answers to the questions above but that it is indeterminate with regard to
explaining particular Western European and U.S. choices at critical junctures
of the Cold War, not even to mention its aftermath. Moreover, sophisticated
power-based arguments that try to account for these choices do so at the
expense of parsimony. Why should they be privileged as providing the base-
line story, while more elegant alternative explanations are used to add some
local c ~ l o r a t i o n ? ~
I provide an account for the origins and the endurance of NATO different
from the conventional wisdom. NATO and the transatlantic relationship can be
better understood on the basis of republican liberalism linking domestic polities
Source: Peter J. Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of Nutiom1 Security: Norms and Identity in
World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), pp. 357-99.
i I[ 1 I Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 167

systematically to the foreign policy of states.' 1,iberal democracies are likely to

form "pacific federations" (Immanuel Kant) or "pluralistic security commu-
nities" (Karl W. Deutsch). Liberalism in the Kantian sense, however, needs to he
distinguished from the conventional use of the term, as in neoliberal institution-
alism, denoting the "cooperation under anarchy" perspective of rationalist
regime analysis.4 I present a social constructivist interpretation of republican lib-
eralism, emphasizing collective identities and norms of appropriate behavior.
To illustrate my argument, 1 discuss the origins of NATO, the transatlantic inter-
actions during two major Cold War "out-of-area" crises (the 1956 Suez crisis
and the 1962 Cuban missile crisis), and the persistence of NATO after the end
of the Cold War.

Theorizing about Alliances

Traditional alliance theory is firmly grounded in realist thinking. Realism,

however, is indeterminate with regard to explaining the origins of, the inter-
action patterns in, and the endurance of NATO.

Realism and the Origins of NATO

Strttctural realism contains a straightforward alliance theory.' States balance

rather than bandwagon; alliances form because weak states band together
against great powers in order to survive in an anarchic international system.
Alliance patterns change because the international distribution of power
changes. This is particularly true under multipolarity; great powers do not
need allies under bipolarity. The latter structure consists of only two great
powers, which are self-sufficient in terms of their ability to survive. As a result,
alliances become a matter of convenience rather than necessity.
It is hard to reconcile Waltzian realism with the history of NATO. The
U.S. emerged from World War I1 as the undisputed superpower in the inter-
national system, enjoying a monopoly (and later superiority) with regard to
the most advanced weapons systems, i.e., nuclear forces. Its gross domestic
product (GDP) outweighed that of all Western European states combined,
not even to mention the Soviet Union. If material capabilities are all that
counts in world politics, one would have expected Western Europe to align
with the Soviet Union rather than with the U.S.'
But the Waltzian argument rests on some peculiar assumptions about
bipolarity. While great powers may not need allies to ensure their survival,
client states might become an asset in the competition between the two
hegemonic rivals. After all, bipolarity means that the two great powers in the
system have to cope primarily with each other. As "defensive positionalists,"
they are expected to be concerned about relative gains and losses vis-a-uis
168 Widening Security

each other and to compete fiercely.' The more important relative gains are,
however, the more significant the acquisition of client states should become.
While the loss or defection of one small ally might not be important, super-
powers might fear that even small losses might set in motion a chain reaction.
Thus, if we change our understanding of bipolarity only slightly, American
Cold War policies of acquiring allies around the globe, i~lcludingthe Western
Europeans, can be explained. In other words, structural realism can be made
consistent with actual U.S. behavior during the Cold War, but the theory could
also explain the opposite behavior.
What about Stephen Walt's more sophisticated realism emphasizing the
"balance of threat" rather than the "balance of power"?8 Does it reduce the
indeterminacy of structural realism by adding more variables? Walt argues that
states align against what they perceive as threats rather than against economic
and military capabilities as such. States feel threatened when they face powers
that combine superior capabilities with geostrategic proximity, offensive mili-
tary power, and offensive ideology. One could then argue that the proximity of
the Soviet landmass to Western Europe, Moscow's offensive military doctrine
backed by superior conventional forces, and the aggressive communist ideol-
ogy constituted the Soviet threat leading to the formation of NATO.
There is no question that Western decision makers perceived a significant
Soviet threat during the late 1940s and that this threat perception was causally
consequential for the formation of NATO. The issue is not the threat percep-
tion, but what constituted it: Soviet power, ideology, behavior, or a combin-
ation of the three? As to Soviet power, the geographic proximity of the Soviet
landmass - Walt's first indicator - could explain the Western European threat
perception and the British and French attempts to lure reluctant decision
makers in Washington into a permanent alliance with E ~ r o p eBut . ~ it is still
unclear why the U.S. valued Western Europe so much that it decided to join
NATO. The argument that the U.S. wanted to prevent Soviet control over the
Eurasian rimlandlo makes sense only if we also assume that decision mak-
ers in Washington saw themselves as defensive positionalists in a fierce hege-
monic rivalry rather than more relaxed Waltzian realists (see above). In this
case, sophisticated realism is as inconclusive as structural realism.
Moreover, the Soviet Union was not considered an offensive military threat
to Western Europe during the late 1940s. Military estimates did increasingly
point to Soviet military superiority in Europe, but that did not lead to the per-
ception of an imminent attack. As John Lewis Gaddis put it, "Estimates of
Moscow's intencions, whether from the Pentagon, the State Department, or the
intelligence community, consistently discounted the possibility that the Russians
might risk a direct military confrontation within the foreseeable future."ll
Rather, the U.S. threat perception at the time focused on potential Soviet
ability to psychologically blackmail war-weakened Western Europe and to
destabilize these countries politically and economically. This American view
of a significant Soviet threat was concerned about actual Soviet behavior in
Eastern Europe and the Soviet offensive political ideology - the third of
Walt's indicators. If this is indeed what constituted the Soviet threat in
I p Collective Identity in a Democratic Community I69

Western eyes in the late 1940s, it can be better explained by liberal theories
t h a n by even sophisticated realism (see below). At least, the t w o accounts
become indistinguisl~ablea t this point.

Realism a n d Cooperation Patterns in NATO

Realism's indeterminacy with regard t o the origins of NATO also applies t o

interaction patterns within the Western Alliance. To begin with, structural
realism of the Waltzian variety has a clear expectation regarding cooperation
among allies. If great powers d o not need allies under bipolarity, they also d o
not need t o listen t o them. As Waltz put it, the contributions of smaller states
t o alliances "are useful even in a bipolar world, but they are not indispensable.
Because they are not, the policies and strategies of alliance leaders are ultim-
ately made according t o their own calculations and interests.""
If this argument holds true, one would not expect much European influ-
ence on U.S. decisions during the Cold War - particularly not in cases, such
as the Cuban missile crisis, when the U S . perceived its supreme national inter-
ests at stake. I show later in this essay that this expectation proves t o be wrong.
Close cooperation among the allies was the rule rather than the exception
throughout the history of NATO - with regard to European security, the
IJ.S.-Soviet relationship, and "out-of-area" cases. T h e power asymmetry
within N A T O did not translate into American dominance. Kather, the
European allies managed t o influence U.S. foreign policy significantly even in
cases when the latter considered its supreme national interests t o be a t stake.''
More sophisticated realists, however, should not I,e too surprised hy these
findings. If we assume that decision makers in Washington needed allies to
fight the Cold War, we would expect some degree of cooperation within the
Western Alliance, including E~lropeaninfluence o n U.S. policies. Allies who
need each other t o balance against a perceived threat are expected t o cooper-
ate with each other. linfortunately, this assun~ptionis demonstrably \vrong.
Cooperation among allies is hy n o means assured. Allies are as likely to fight
each other as they are t o fight non-allies - except for democratic alliance^.'^
Thus we need additional assumptions about the conditions under \vhich
nations in alliances are likely t o cooperate. According t o realist bargaining the-
ory, for example, we would expect a higher degree of interallied cooperation,

0 the h ~ g h e rthe percaved level of extern'll thrc'it

0 the more ,lll~esfe'ir t h ~ tth e ~ rpartners m ~ g h t,ihandon them o r detect,
part~cularlyIn crlsi5 sltuatlons
the more ~ s \ ~ ~ e - s p e cpower
hc resources are L I In ~mterall~edb , ~ r g , l ~ n -
lng sltuationc."

At this point, sophisticated realism loses much of its parsimony. Evaluating

these propositions against alternative claims r e q ~ ~ i r edetailed
s process-tracing
of interallied bargaining. We cannot simply assume a realist bargaining process
when we find outcomes consistent with one specific version of realist theory.
170 Widening Security

Realism a n d t h e Endurance of NATO a f t e r t h e Cold War

The indeterminacy of realism also applies when we start using the theory to
predict the survivability of NATO after the Cold War. Structural realists in the
Waltzian tradition should expect NATO to wither away with the end of the
Cold War. If great powers do not need allies under bipolarity for their survival,
this should be all the more true when the hegemonic rivalry ceases to dominate
world politics. In Waltz's own words, "NATO is a disappearing thing. It is a
question of how long it is going to remain as a significant institution even
though its name may linger on."I6
In the absence of indicators of what "lingering on" means, it is hard to
evaluate the proposition. I argue later in this essay that NATO is alive and
well so far, at least as compared to other security institutions in Europe.
Sophisticated realism and "balance-of-threat" arguments are indetermin-
ate with regard to the future of NATO. On the one hand, one could argue that
the Western Alliance should gradually disintegrate as a result of the Soviet
withdrawal from Eastern Europe and the drastically decreased military threat.
On the other hand, the Russian landmass might still constitute a residual risk
to Western Europe, thus necessitating a hedge against a potential reemergence
of the threat." In any case, the Western offer for a "partnership for peace" to
Russia is difficult to account for even by sophisticated realism.
In sum, a closer look at realism as the dominant alliance theory reveals its
indeterminacy with regard to the origins of, the interaction patterns in, and the
endurance of NATO. In retrospect, almost every single choice of states can be
accommodated somehow by realist thinking. As a Waltzian realist, the U.S. could
have concluded that the direct confrontation with the USSR was all that mat-
tered, while the fate of the Western Europeans would not alter the global balance
of power. As a more sophisticated realist, the U.S. would have decided - as it
actually did - that the fate of the Eurasian rim was geostrategically too signifi-
cant to leave the Western Europeans alone. If decision makers in Washington
listened to their allies during the Cuban missile crisis, we can invoke realist argu-
ments about reputation and the need to preserve the alliance during crises. Had
the U.S. not listened to the Western Europeans during the crisis, one could have
argued that superpowers do not need to worry about their allies when they per-
ceive that their immediate survival is at stake. If NATO survives the end of the
Cold War, it is "lingering on" as a hedge; if it disappears, the threat has withered
away. As others have noted before, realism is not especially helpful in explaining
particular foreign policy choices.18 I now look at a liberal account emphasizing a
community among democracies, collective identity, and alliance norms.

Democratic Allies in a Pluralistic Security Community: A Liberal

Constructivist Approach

The U.S. had quite some latitude as to how it defined its interests in Europe.
Thus we need to "look more closely at this particular hegemon" in order to
"determine why this particular ... agenda was p ~ r s u e d . " 'Domestic
~ politics
I' 1 1 ; Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 1 71

and structure\ have to be cons~dered,and the realm of llberal theorzes of

~nternationalrelat~ons1s to be entered.
To a v o ~ dconfuswn, part~cularlyw ~ t hwhat IS \ometimes called neollberal
~nstztut~onal~sm, I rewrve the term lzberal theories of ~nternationalrelattons
for approaches agreemg that"'

1 . thc fundamental agents in international p l i t i c s are not states but
uals acting in a social context - whether governments, domestic society, o r
international institutions;
2. the interests and preferences of national governments have to be analyzed
as a result of domestic structures and coalition-building processes respond-
ing to social demands as well as t o external factors such as the (material
and social) structure of the international system;
3. ideas - values, norms, and knowledge - are causally consequential in inter-
national relations, particularly with regard to state interests, preferences,
and choices;
4. international institutions form the social structure of international politics
presenting constraints and opportunities to actors.

Immanuel Kant's argumentx that democratic institutions characterized by

the rule of law, the respect for human rights, the nonviolent and cornpromise-
oriented resolution of domestic conflicts, and participatory opportunities for
the citizens are a necessary condition for peace has been empirically suhstan-
tiated. Most scholars agree that liberal democracies rarely fight each other,
even though they are not peaceful toward autocratic regimes." The reasons
for these two findings are less clear, since explanations focusing solely on
democratic domestic structures miss the point that liberal states are not inher-
ently peaceful. Rather, we need theoretical accounts that link the domestic
level to interactions on the international level."
Two domestic-level explanations prevail in the literature.'"he first
emphasizes institutional constraints. Democracies are characterized by an elab-
orate set of checks and balances - between the executive and the legislature,
between the political system and interest groups, public opinion, and so o n .
It is then argued that the conlplexity of the decision-making process makes it
unlikely that leaders will readily use military force unless they are confident of
gathering enough domestic support for a low-cost war. This explanation is
theoretically unconvincing. Why is it that the complexity of democratic insti-
tutions seems to matter less when liberal states are faced with authoritarian
The second explanation focuses on the norms governing democratic
decision-making processes and establishing the nonviolent and compromise-
oriented resolution of political conflicts, the equality of the citizens, major-
ity rule, tolerance for dissent, and the rights of minorities. These norms are
firmly embedded in the political culture of liberal states and shape the iden-
tity of political actors through processes of socialization, communication,
and enactment. This norm- and identity-based account appears t o offer a
172 Widening Security

better understanding of why it is that democratic governments refrain from

violence when dealing with fellow democracies. But its exclusive focus on
the domestic level still does not show why such restraints disappear when
liberal governments deal with autocratic regimes.
The norm- and identity-based explanation nevertheless can be easily
amended and linked to the level of international interactions. Collectively held
identities not only define who "we" are, but they also delineate the boundaries
against "them," the "other."25 Identities then prescribe norms of appropriate
behavior toward those perceived as part of "us" as we11 as toward the "other."
There is no reason that this argument should not equally apply to the domes-
tic and the international realm. A sociological interpretation of a liberal the-
ory of international relations then claims that actors' domestic identities are
crucial for their perceptions of one another in the international realm. As
Michael Doyle put it,

Domestically just republics, which rest on consent, then presume foreign

republics also to be consensual, just, and therefore deserving of accom-
modation. ... At the same time, liberal states assume that non-liberal
states, which do not rest on free consent, are not just. Because non-liberal
governments are in a state of aggression with their own people, their for-
eign relations become for liberal governments deeply suspect. In short,
fellow liberals benefit from a presumption of amity; nonliberals suffer
from a presumption of enmity.26

Threat perceptions do not emerge from a quasi-objective international

power structure, but actors infer external behavior from the values and norms
governing the domestic political processes that shape the identities of their
partners in the international system. Thus, France and Britain did not perceive
the superior American power at the end of World War I1 as threatening,
because they considered the U.S. as part of "us"; Soviet power, however,
became threatening precisely because Moscow's domestic order identified the
Soviet Union as "the other." The collective identity of actors in democratic sys-
tems defines both the "in-group" of friends and the "out-group7' of potential
foes. Liberal theory posits that the realist world of anarchy reigns in relations
between democratic and authoritarian systems, while "democratic peace" pre-
vails among liberal systems.
But liberal theory does not suggest that democracies live in perpetual
harmony with each other or do not face cooperation problems requiring
institutional arrangements. Kant's "pacific federation" (foedus pacificurn)
does not fall from heaven, but has to be "formally instituted" (ge~tiftet).~'
Since the security dilemmaZs is almost absent among democracies, they face
fewer obstacles to creating cooperative security institutions. Actors of demo-
cratic states "know" through the process of social identification described
above that they are unlikely to fight each other in the future. They share lib-
eral values pertaining to political life and are likely to form what Deutsch
called a "pluralistic security community," leading to mutual responsiveness in
I t K Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 173

terms of "mutual sympathy and loyalties; of 'we-feeling,' trust, and consid-

eration; of at least partial identification in terms of self-images and interests;
of the ability to predict each other's behavior and ability to act in accordance
with that prediction. " I "
While Deutsch's notion of pluralistic security colnmunities is not confined
to democracies, it is unlikely that a similar sense of mutual responsiveness
could emerge among autocratic leaders. There is nothing in their values that
would prescribe mutual sympathy, trust, and consideration. Rather, cooper-
ation among nondemocracies is likely to emerge out of narrowly defined
self-interests. It should remain fragile, and the "cooperation under anarchy"
perspective to international relations should apply."'
If democracies are likely to overcome obstacles against international
cooperation and to enter institutional arrangements for specific purposes,
what about the rules and decision-making procedures of these institutions?
One would expect the regulative norms"' of these institutions to reflect the
constitutive norms that shape the collective identity of the security commu-
nity. Democracies are then likely to form detnocrL~tirinternational institutions
whose rules and procedures are aimed toward consensual and compromise-
oriented decision-making respecting the equality of the participants. The
norms governing the domestic decision-making processes of liberal systems
are expected to regulate their interactions in international institutions. Dem-
ocracies externalize their internal norms when cooperating with each other.
Power asymmetries will be mediated by norms of democratic decision-making
among equals emphasizing persuasion, compromise, and the non-use of force
or coercive power. Nornis of regular consultation, of joint consensus-building,
and of nonhierarchy legitimize and enable a habit of mutual influence on each
other's preferences and behaviors. These norms serve as key obligations trans-
lating the domestic decision-making rules of democracies to the international
arena. This is not to suggest that consultation norms exist only in alliances
among democracies. Kut consultation means "codetennination" when democ-
racies are involved.
But how are these regulative norms expected to affect interaction processes
among democratic allies? First, decision makers either anticipate allied de-
mands or directly consult their partners before preferences are formed and
conclusions are reached. Actors then make a discernible effort to define their
preferences in a way that is compatible with the allied views and to acconi-
modate allied demands.
Second, norms serve as collective understandings of appropriate behav-
ior, which can be invoked by the participants in a discourse to justify their
arguments. Consultation norms affect the reasoning process by which deci-
sion makers identify their preferences and choices. Actors are expected to
invoke the norms to back up their respective views and to give weight to
their arguments.
Third, the cooperation rules and procedures are also expected to influ-
ence the hrrrgaining processes among the allies. This is fairly ohvious with
regard to consultation. In addition, democratic decision-making procedures
174 Widening Security

deemphasize the use of material power resources in intra-allied bargaining

processes, thereby delegitimating to play out one's superior military or eco-
nomic power in intra-alliance bargaining. Both the pluralistic security com-
munity and specific consultation norms work against the use of coercive
power in bargaining processes among democracies.
But norms can be violated. Norms compliance in human interactions is
to be expected only in a probabilistic sense. Instances in which actors violate
specific rules and obligations are of particular interest to the analysis. If
norms regulate the interaction but are breached, one would expect peculiar
behavior by both the violator and the victim, such as excuses, justifications,
or compensatory action.32
Finally, the allied community of values does not exclude democracies' driv-
ing hard bargains when dealing with each other in conflictual situations.
While using material power resources to strengthen one's bargaining position
is considered illegitimate among democracies, references to domestic pressures
and constraints are likely to occur frequently. After all, liberal systems have in
common that their leaders are constrained by the complexities of democratic
political institutions. Since these procedures form the core of the value com-
munity, it should be appropriate to play "two-level games" using domestic
pressures - small domestic "win-sets," in Robert Putnam's terms - to increase
one's bargaining le~erage.~"
The argument presented above assumes that the values and norms
embedded in the political culture of liberal democracies constitute the col-
lective identity of a security community among democracies and that the
regulative norms of the community institutions reflect these constitutive
norms. This claim is subject to two objection^:^^

1. Why is it that domestic orders, norms, and political cultures shape the
identities of actors in the international realm? Why not economic orders,
such as capitalism? Why not geographic concepts, such as "the West," the
"North Atlantic area," and the like? Why not gender and race, such as
"white males" ?
2. Democratic identities appear to be constant and acontextual rather than
historically contingent. Is there never any change as to what constitutes
an identity as "liberal democrat"?

As to the first point, it is, of course, trivial that actors hold multiple identi-
ties. Which of these or which combination dominates their interests, percep-
tions, and behavior in a given area of social interaction needs to be examined
through empirical analysis and cannot be decided beforehand. I submit, how-
ever, that values and norms pertaining to questions of governance are likely to
shape identities in the realm of the political - be it domestic or international.
Moreover, such notions as "the West" do not contradict the argument here but
seem to represent a specific enculturation of a broader liberal worldview. The
same holds true for identities as "capitalists," particularly if juxtaposed against
"communist order." The notion of the "free world," which Western policy
I< * r i Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 175

makers used frequently during the Cold War to refer to their collective identity
and to demarcate the boundaries against "Communism," encompassed liberal
values pertaining to both the political and the economic orders.
As t o the second point, and unlike several versions of neoliberalism, a
sociological interpretation of the liberal argument posits historical contin-
gency and contextuality. The zone of the "democratic peace" in the Northern
klemisphere did n o t fall from heavcn but was creatcd through processes of
social interaction and learning." The emergence of NATO is part a n d par-
cel of that story. Moreover, the norms of the democratic peace can in prin-
ciple be unlearned, since collective identities might change over time. But t o
argue that the social structure of international relations is somehow more
malleable a n d subject t o change than material structures represents a mis-
understanding of social c o n s t r ~ ~ c t i v i s m . ' ~
The argument then can be summarized as follows: Democracies rarely fight
each other: they perceive each other as peaceful. They perceive each other as
peaceful because of the democratic norms governing their domestic decision-
making processes. For the same reason, they form pluralistic security cornmu-
nities of shared values. Because they perceive each other as peaceful and express
a sense of community, they are likely t o overcome obstacles against inter-
national cooperation and to form international institutions such as alliances.
The norms regulating interactions in such institutions are expected to reflect the
shared democratic values and to resemble the don~esticdecision-making norms.
In the following sections, I illustrate the argument with regard t o the
formation of NATO, t w o cases of inter-allied conflict during Cold War
crises, and the future of the transatlantic relationship in the post-Cold War

A Liberal Interpretation of the Transatlantic Security Community

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization represents an institutionalization of

the security community to respond to a specific threat. While the ~ e r c e i v e d
Soviet threat strengthened the sense of common purpose among the allies, it
did not create the community in the first place.'- NATO was preceded by the
wartime alliance of the U.S., Great Britain, and France, which also collab-
orated closely to create various postwar regimes in the economic area.
I'articularly the British worked hard to ensure that the U.S. did not withdraw
from Europe, as it had after World War I, but remained permanently involved
in European affairs.'"
While the European threat perceptions a t the time might be explained on
sophisticated realist grounds using Stephen Walt's "balance-of-threat" argu-
ment, U S . behavior as the undisputed hegemon o f the immediate post-World
War I1 era is more difficult to understand. The U.S. faced several choices, each
of which was represented in the administration as well as in the American
176 Widening Security

public. President Roosevelt, for example, tried to preserve the wartime alliance
with the Soviet Union until his death and to realize a collective security order
guaranteed by the "four policemen" (the U.S., the USSR, Great Britain, and
China), a concept that he had first proposed in 1941. His successor, President
Truman, continued on this path during his first months in office. After
Truman had changed his mind, Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace still
advocated a modus vivendi with the Soviet Union and the need to respect a
Soviet sphere of influence in Europe until he was removed from office in
September 1946. In the U.S. public, Walter Lippmann became the leading
advocate of that argument when responding to George F. Kennan's contain-
ment strategy.
Early supporters of a tougher policy toward Moscow included the U.S.
ambassador to Moscow, Averell Harriman, Kennan, and particularly Secretary
of the Navy James Forrestal, while Secretary of State George Marshall steered
a middle course until about 1948. How is it to be explained that this latter
argument carried the day and that particularly President Truman became a firm
advocate of a policy of c ~ n t a i n m e n t ? ~ ~
An obvious answer pertains, of course, to Soviet behavior. Western lead-
ers, including Roosevelt, would have accepted a Soviet sphere of influence
in Europe and were prepared to accommodate its security concerns - see
Churchill's famous trip to Moscow in October 1944 and the Soviet-British
"percentages agreement" on Southeast Europe.40 But when the Red Army
moved into Eastern Europe in 1944, Moscow immediately started to sup-
press potential political opposition in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and,
above all, Poland. Stalin broke what Roosevelt considered a Soviet com-
mitment to free elections negotiated at Yalta, provoking the president to
complain, "We can't do business with Stalin. He has broken every one of
the promises he made at Yalta."41
The Truman administration, which had supported friendly relations with
the Soviet Union until December 1945, began to change its position in early
1946, in conjunction with the Soviet reluctance to carry out the Moscow
agreements to include non-Communists in the governments of Romania and
Bulgaria.42These early disputes focused on domestic order issues in Soviet-
controlled Eastern Europe. Had Stalin "Finlandized" rather than "Sovietized"
Eastern Europe, the Cold War could have been avoided. In the perception of
U.S. decision makers, the Soviet threat emerged as a threat to the domestic
order of Western Europe, whose economies were devastated by the war. As
the CIA concluded in mid-1947, "the greatest danger to the security of the
United States is the possible economic collapse in Western Europe and the con-
sequent accession to power of Communist elements."43 U.S. administrations
from Roosevelt to Truman considered Western Europe vital to American secu-
rity interests, both for historical reasons (after all, two world wars had been
fought over Western Europe) and because it was viewed as a cornerstone of
the liberal - political and economic - world order that both Roosevelt and
Truman envisaged.44But it was not Soviet power as such that constituted a
threat to these interests; rather it was the Soviet domestic order, combined
ki , <,,;;r):~ Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 177

w ~ t hSov~etbehawor In Eastern Europe, i n d ~ c a t ~ nag wlll~ngnessto expand

Communism beyond the USSR. In other words, Sov~etpower became threat-
enmg as a tool to expand the Sowet domest~corder. Moreover, the Sov~et
U n ~ o nalso refused to loin the Bretton Woods Instltut~onsof the World Bank
and the Internat~onalMonetary Fund, thus endlng hopes that ~tm ~ g h partlc- t
lpate In the postwar ~nternat~onal economlc order.
This is not to suggest that the Soviet Union was wlely responsible tor
the orlglns of the Cold W x . Rather, d ~ f t e r ~ nv1ew5g of domest~cand Inter-
n a t ~ o n a lorder clashed after World War 11. Moscow refused to join the
Amer~c'ln l~bcralproject b x e d upon an open mternat~onalorder and free
trade, free-market econom~es,and l~beralsystems of governance." Roosevelt
and Truman t r ~ e dto accommodate the Sov~etvlew at f m t but then gradually
abandoned that idea In favor of tougher p o h e s . Stalm's behavior 111 bastern
Europe and elsewhere - Irrespective of whether tt was mot~vatedby genulne
securttv concerns or aggressive ~ n t e n t ~ o n-s re~ntorcedthe emergmg percep-
tlons of thre'lt, both In the publ~cand In the ,ldrn~n~strat~on. Over , i g a ~ n ~ t
those promotmg a modus vivend~ between the US. and the Sowet Umon,
Stal~nhelped another worldv~ewto carry the d , ~ )111 Washmgton, one t h ~ t
interpreted the post-World War 11 sltuatlon In terms of a long-last~ngstr'lteglc
r~valrybetween the US.and the USSR - the Cold W x .
The emergmg confl~ctwas ~ncreas~ngly f r a n e d In Man~chaeanterm\. A\
Anders Steph,~nsonput it,

[The Cold War] was launched in fiercely ideological terms as an invn 51011
.' L

or delegitirnation of the Other's social order, a demonology combined of

course with a mythology of the everlasting virtues of one's own domain.
This is not surprising, considering the universalism of the respective

The hber,ll ~nterpret~tlonot Stal~n'sbehav~ortr,lnsformed the Sov~etU n ~ o n

from a wartlme all). to an opponent, the "other":

There ~ s n ' tany d~fterenceIn t o t a l ~ t a r ~ astates.

n ... N a z ~ ,C o m m u n ~ s tor
F a w s t , or Franco, or anyth~ngelse -they are all a l ~ k e .
The 5tronger the volce of a people 111 the fortnulat~ono f nat~onal
p o l ~ c ~ ethe
s , less the danger of aggresston. When all governments d e r ~ v e
t h e ~ rlust powers from the consent of the governed, there wdl be endur-
ing peace.4-

The varlous declarat~onsof the Cold War - Kennan's "long telegram,"

Church~ll's1946 " ~ r o ncurtam" speech In Fulton, M ~ s s o u r ~ , the 1947
Truman doctr~ne- ,111 m'lde the same connect~onbetween a lzberal mterpret-
atlon ot the \ o a ~ e tthreat sternrnmg from ~ t "total~tar~an"
s domest~ccharac-
ter, on the one hand, m d a rcallst balance of power ("conta~nment")strategy
to counter ~ t Kennan's
. "long telegram" and h ~ later
\ "X" a r t d e connected
two I~beralInterpretations of the Sov~etthreat to promote h ~ preterred
s courx
178 Widening Security

of action.48He portrayed the Soviet Union as combining an ancient autocratic

tradition that was deeply suspicious of its neighbors with a Communist ideol-
ogy. Of course, cooperation was not an option with an opponent whose
aggressiveness resulted from a historically derived sense of insecurity together
with ideological aspirations that were ultimately caused by the fear of authori-
tarian rulers that they would be overthrown by their own people.
To what extent were these interpretations of the Soviet threat merely jus-
tifying rhetoric to gather public support for U.S. foreign policy rather than
genuine concerns of decision makers? First, as argued above, there was noth-
ing inevitable about the emergence of the Cold War, as far as U.S. decision
makers were concerned. Soviet behavior, U.S. responses, the clash of world-
views, and mutual threat perceptions reinforced each other to create the
East-West conflict. Second, the historical record appears to indicate that
Harry Truman genuinely changed his mind about the extent to which one
could cooperate with the Soviet Union during his first year in office.49Third,
an exaggerated rhetoric constructing the Soviet Union as the "empire of the
evil" (Reagan)created the Cold War consensus in the U.S., since public opin-
ion and Congress at the time were reluctant to accept new commitments
overseas shortly after World War I1 had been won. The Truman doctrine, for
example, deliberately oversold the issue of granting financial aid to Greece
and Turkey as a fight between "freedom" and "totalitarianism" to get the
package through Congress. But this point only confirms the power of the lib-
eral argument in creating winning domestic coalitions in the U.S.
Even after the perception of a Soviet threat had won out in Washington,
the U.S. still faced choices. Joining NATO was only one of them. It could
have fought the Soviet Union on its own in a bipolar confrontation. Another
option was to negotiate bilateral security arrangements with selected Western
European states, as the Soviet Union did with Eastern Europe between 1945
and 1948, and as British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin suggested in 1948.50
Instead, the U.S. chose to entangle itself in a multilateral alliance based on the
indivisibility of security, diffuse reciprocity, and democratic decision-making
Since it is impossible to present a detailed history of the North Atlantic
Treaty in a few pages, some general remarks must suffice.52 First, NATO
came about against the background of the emerging sense of threat in both
Western Europe and the U.S. Soviet behavior in Eastern Europe and in its
German occupation zone might have been motivated by Moscow's own
threat perceptions and by an attempt to prevent a Western anti-Soviet bloc.
But Stalin's behavior once again proved counterproductive and served to fuel
Western threat perception. The Prague Communist "coup," for example,
occurred precisely when negotiations for the Brussels Treaty creating the West
European Union were under way and led to their speedy conclusion. The
events in Czechoslovakia, as well as Soviet pressure against Norway, con-
vinced U.S. Secretary of State Marshall that a formal alliance between the
U.S. and Western Europe was necessary. The Soviet blockade of Berlin's
Western sectors in 1948 not only "created" Berlin as the symbol of freedom
i I I 11 Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 179

and democracy - i.e., the values for which the Cold War was fought - but also
proved crucial to move the U.S. closer to a firm commitment to European
Second, major initiatives toward the formation of a North Atlantic
Alliance originated in Europe, mainly in the British Foreign Office." A close
transgovernmental coalition of like-minded U.S., Rritish, Canadian, and -
later o n - Frcnch senior officials worked hard to transform t h e growing sensc
of threat into a firm U.S. commitment toward European security. The nego-
tiations leading to the North Atlantic Treaty resenihled a "three-level" game
involving U.S. domestic politics, transgovernmental consensus-building, and
intergovernmental bargains across the Atlantic. As to the last, probahly the
most important deal concerned Germany: the French would support U.S.
policies toward the creation of a West German state in exchange for an
American security commitment to Europe in terms of "dual containment"
(protection against the Soviet Union and Germany)."
Third, a multilateral institution had advantages over alternative options,
since it enhanced the legitimacy of American leadership by giving the Western
Europeans a say in the decision-making process. In this context, it was self-
evident and not controversial on either side of the Atlantic that an alliance
of democratic states had to be based on democratic principles, norms, and
decision-making rules. The two major bargains about the North Atlantic
Treaty concerned, first, the nature of the assistance clause (article 5 of the
treaty) and, second, the extent to which the consultation commitn~ent(article 4)
would include threats outside the NATO area. Neither the commitment to
democratic values (preamble) nor the democratic decision-making procedures
as outlined in articles 2, 3, and 8 were controversial in the treaty negotiations.
Rather, the controversy between the U.S. Congress, o n the one hand, and the
administration together with the Western European governments, on the
other, focused o n the indivisibility of the mutual security assistance."
In sum, a liberal interpretation of NATO's origins holds that the Cold
War came about when fundamental ideas - worldviews - about the domestic
and the international order for the post-World War I1 era clashed. The
Western democracies perceived a threat to their fundamental values resulting
from the "Sovietization" of Eastern Europe. While the perceived Soviet threat
certainly strengthened the sense of community among the Western democrac-
ies, it did not create the collective identity in the first place. In light of the lib-
eral collective identity and its views of what constituted a "just" domestic and
international order, Stalin's behavior and his refusal to join the liberal order
confirmed that the Soviet Union could not be trusted. NATO then institu-
tionalized the transatlantic security community to cope with the threat. The
multilateral nature of the organization based on democratic principles and
decision rules reflected the common values and the collective identity.
Regulatory norms of multilateralism and joint decision making were not
just rhetoric covering up American hegemony, but shaped the interallied rela-
tionship. These norms were causally consequential for transatlantic security
cooperation during the Cold War, since they allowed for disproportionate
180 Widening Security

European influence on U.S. foreign policies. During the Korean war, for
example, norms of consultation had an overall restraining effect on American
decisions with regard to the localization of the war in Korea instead of its
extension into China, the non-use of nuclear weapons, and the conclusion of
the armistice negotiation^.^^
Western Europeans also had quite an impact on the early stages of nuclear
arms control, especially during the test ban negotiations when the British
in particular pushed and pulled the U.S. toward an agreement. As to NATO
decisions pertaining to European security, joint decision making quickly be-
came the norm. This has been shown to be true in most crucial cases, such as
decisions on nuclear strategy and deployments." The evidence also suggests
that the transatlantic relationship cannot be conceptualized as merely inter-
state relations; rather, the interaction patterns are significantly influenced by
transnational and transgovernmental coalition-building p r ~ c e s s e s . ~ ~
I will briefly discuss here two cases of interallied dispute over policies dur-
ing the Cold War. The first, the 1956 Suez crisis, probably constituted the most
severe transatlantic crisis of the 1950s, leading to a temporary breakdown of
the community. I argue, however, that reference to a conflict of interests alone
does not explain the interallied confrontation, in particular not the United
States' coercion of its allies. The transatlantic dispute can be better understood
in the framework of norm-guided behavior, as a dispute over obligations and
appropriate behavior in a security community. The second case, the 1962
Cuban missile crisis, was the most serious U.S.-Soviet confrontation during the
Cold War. I argue that U.S. decisions during the crisis cannot be explained
without reference to the normative framework of the transatlantic security

The 1956 Suez Crisis: The Violation of Community Norms

A temporary breakdown of the allied community resulted from the 1956

Suez crisis when the U.S. coerced Britain, France, and Israel through eco-
nomic pressure to give up their attempts to regain control of the Suez Canal.
I suggest that the "realist" outcome of the crisis - the strong defeating the
weak - needs to be explained by a "liberal" process. The American coercion
of its allies resulted from a mutual sense of betrayal of the community lead-
ing to the violation of consultation norms and the temporary breakdown of
the community itself.
The conflict of interests between the U.S. and its two allies was obvious
to both sides from the beginning of the crisis." The British and French gov-
ernments knew that the U.S. profoundly disagreed with them on whether or
not force should be used to restore control over the Suez Canal. The attitudes
of the U.S. as compared with those of its allies were rooted in diverging
assessments of the situation in the Middle East, of the larger political context,
and of the particular actions by Egypt's Nasser. The U.S. made a major effort
to restrain its allies from using military force by working for a negotiated set-
tlement and the establishment of an international authority to take control of
i: I gpl! Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 181

the Suez Canal. Both sides frequently exchanged their diverging viewpoints
through the normal channels of interallied communication, which remained
open throughout most of the crisis. The U S . and its allies also knew that the
British were economically dependent on American assistance for the pound
sterling and for ensuring oil supplies to NATO Europe, should the crisis escal-
ate into war.""
Why, then, did the British a n d French w h o k n c w a b o u t their dependence
a n d the American disagreement with them, nevertheless go ahead with their
military plans a n d deceive Washington? H o w is their miscalculation of the
U.S. reaction to be explained?
The British and French governments reluctantly agreed to U.S. attempts
for a negotiated solution, first through a n international conference in London
in August 1956 and later through the proposal of a Suez Canal Users' Asso-
ciation (SCUA) in Septemher. But the allies were not seriously interested in
the success of these efforts, since their ultiniate goal was not only to secure
access t o the Suez Canal but also to get rid of Nasser. They endorsed the
American efforts to huy time and t o create a favorable climate of opinion in
the U.S. and the IJN.
At the same time, the governments in London and Paris perceived
Anlerican behavior during the crisis as a t best ambiguous, if not deceiving.
John Foster Dulles earned himself a reputation o f "saying one thing and
doing another," as Selwyn Lloyd, the British foreign minister, put it.6' There
are indeed indications that Dulles favored stronger action if Nasser rejected
reasonable proposals by the London conference. In September, for example,
Dulles discussed a proposal with the British prime minister t o set up an
Anglo-American working group that would consider means of weakening
Nasser's regime.''
The British sense of heing betrayed by the Americans increased dramatic-
ally as a result of Dulles's handling of his own SCUA proposal. Prime Minister
Anthony Eden viewed it as a means to corner Nasser further and to use his
expected rejection as a pretext for military action. But in a n attempt to damp-
en the British spin on the proposal and to make it more acceptable to the
Egyptians, Dulles declared that "the United States did not intend itself to try
to shoot its way through" the Suez Canal. As a result, Eden concluded on
October 8 that "we have been misled so often by Ihlles' ideas that we cannot
afford to risk m o t h e r misunderstanding. ... Time is not on our side in this
matter."": The British felt abandoned by the American government, which in
their eyes had violated the community ot purpose. L.ondon then chose to
deliberately deceive Washington about the ~nilitaryplans in October 19.56
without calculating the possible consequences. First, British officials thought,
in a somewhat self-deluding manner, that the U.S. did not want to hear about
the military preparations. Second, the British government was convinced in
some strange way that the U.S. would ultimately hack it and that allied action
would somehow force Washington to support what persuasion did not
accon~plish.Eden and his foreign minister reckoned that the choice was clear
for Washington if it had to take sides between Eg!.pt and its European allies.
182 Widening Security

What they perceived as Dulles's duplicity not only created a sense of betrayal
leading to the deception in the first place, it also helped to reassure them that
the Americans would ultimately support their action. In short, British deci-
sion makers firmly believed in the viability of the North Atlantic partnership.
They convinced themselves that the U.S. was bound by the community and
would ultimately value it. They relied on reassurances such as the one uttered
by Dulles ten days before the invasion of the Suez Canal: "I do not comment
on your observations on Anglo-American relations except to say that those
relations, from our standpoint, rest on such a firm foundation that misunder-
standings of this nature, if there are such, cannot disturb them."64
But Eisenhower and Dulles, despite all ambiguous statements, never
wavered in pursuing two goals: (a)to prevent the use of force and (b) to reach
a negotiated settlement guaranteeing safe passage through the Suez Canal.
The administration mediated between its allies and the Egyptians while at the
same time trying to restrain the British and French from resorting to military
action. But this does not mean that Washington had to use its overwhelming
power to force its allies to give up their adventure in Egypt. While the U.S.
opposition to the allied action was to be expected, the use of coercive power
was not. The allies could have agreed to disagree, since no supreme American
interests were at stake.65 The U.S. could have confined its opposition to con-
demnatory action in the UN General Assembly. In other words, U.S. decision
makers made choices as to how to react to the allied military action.
The American decision to play hardball with the allies was triggered
by a series of unilateral allied moves that violated norms of consultation
and jeopardized the community of purpose in the eyes of American leaders.
First, the British government decided at the end of August to get the
North Atlantic Council involved in the crisis, against the explicit advice of
the U.S. government. The allies apparently calculated that other Western
Europeans would support their military preparations, while the adminis-
tration thought that such a move would further complicate discussions at
the London c ~ n f e r e n c e . ~ ~
Second, the British government told the U.S. in late September of its
plans to refer the matter to the UN Security Council in order to preempt a
likely Soviet move. John Foster Dulles advised against it, since he thought
that such action would hinder his attempts to get the SCUA off the ground.
On September 23, the British and French referred the Suez issue to the Secur-
ity Council anyway.
Third, immediately before the invasion, American decision makers com-
plained that they were left in the dark about the British and French plans and
that the interallied lines of communications had gradually broken down. The
State Department asked the U.S. embassies in London and Paris to find out
what the two governments were up to. It received reassuring messages, since
the American embassies either were deliberately misled by their sources or
just second-guessed the allied governments. Intelligence information grad-
ually came in reporting Israeli plans to invade Egypt, with possible French
and British inv~lvement.~'When &e Israeli invasion started on October 29,
i I I Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 183

the U.S. administration had sufficient ~ n f o r m a t ~ oton suspect that France was
involved in the action. Rut until the facts could no longer be dented, ne~ther
F~senhowernor l h l l e s wanted to belleve that the Rrttlsh government had
decelved them. The sense of comrnun~tyled to w~shfulth~nkingby Amer~can
d e c ~ w mmakers. The U.5. then decided to bring the matter to the UN Secur~ty
Councd but w ~ told s by the all~esthat they would never support a UN move
agamst Israel. Cven then, tlsenhower d ~ dnot bel~cvcwhat he saw. He sent
an urgent message to P r ~ m eMm~sterEden, expressing his confusion and

that the UK and the US quickly and clearly lay out their present views
and intentions before each other, and that, come what may, we find some
way of concerting our ideas and plans so that we may not, in any real cri-
sis, be powerless to act i11 concert because of our misunderstanding of
each other.""

The extent of the Anglo-French-Israeli collusion became clear only a few

hours later, when the British and French issued a joint ultimatum demanding
that Israel and Egypt withdraw from the Suez Canal to allow for an Anglo-
French occupation of the Canal zone. The plot was immediately apparent,
since the Israeli forces had not yet reached the line to which they were sup-
posed to retreat. Eisenhower now realized that he had been misled all along
and expressed his dismay ahout the "unworthy and unreliable ally." Later
that day, he declared that he was "inclined to think that those who began this
operation should be left to work out their own oil problem - to boil in their
own oil, so to speak."
The secretary of state sun~monedthe French ambassador, telling him
that "this was the blackest day which has occurred in many years in the
relations between England and France and the United States. He asked how
the former relationship of trust and confidence could possibly be restored
in view of these develop~neilts."~"
Eisenhower and Dulles were not so much upset by the Anglo-French-Israeli
use of force itself as by the fact that core allies had deliberately deceived them.
The allies had not broken some minor consultation agreements; they had vio-
lated fundamental collective understandings that constituted the transatlantic
comnlunity - "trust and confidence." Once the degree of allied deception
became obvious, decision makers in Washington concluded that they were
themselves no longer hound by alliance norms. They decided to retaliate in
kind and coerced their allies through financial pressure. Now the U.S. aban-
doned the community, leaving its allies no choice hut to back down. As the
British ambassador in W'lshington put it, "We have now passed the point
when we are talking to friends. ... IW]e are on a hard bargaining basis and we
are dealing with an Administration of business executives."'"
While the U.S. administration was coercing its allies to withdraw from the
Suez Canal, it indicated at the same time that a major effort should be made
to restore the community. As soon as November 7, the president called the
184 Widening Security

whole affair a "family spat" in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister

Eden. He later tried to find excuses for the British behavior: "Returning to
the Suez crisis, the President said he now believes that the British had not been
in on the Israeli-French planning until the very last stages when they had no
choice but to come into the ~peration."'~
If the British had "no choice," they could not really be blamed for deceiv-
ing the U.S. The two governments now engaged in almost ritualistic reassur-
ances that their "special relationship" would be restored quickly. President
Eisenhower and Anthony Eden's successor Harold Macmillan worked hard
to reestablish the community. The Bermuda summit in March 1957 docu-
mented the restoration of the "special relationship." In the long term, the cri-
sis resulted in a major change in U.S. policies toward nuclear cooperation
with the British. In 1958, Congress amended the Atomic Energy Act to allow
for the sharing of nuclear information with Britain, which London had
requested throughout the decade. The violation of alliance norms during the
Suez crisis reinforced rather than reduced the transatlantic ties.
As for NATO in general, the crisis led to a reform of its consultation pro-
cedures. The "Report of the Committee of Three on Non-Military Cooper-
ation in NATO" restated the need for timely consultation among the allies
on foreign policy matters in general, not just those pertaining to European
security. The North Atlantic Council adopted the report in December 1956.72
But the French-American relationship never recovered. While French lead-
ers had already been more sanguine about the interallied conflict than the
British, the crisis set in motion a trend of gradually weakening the transat-
lantic ties between Paris and Washington. This deinstitutionalization culmin-
ated in President de Gaulle's 1966 decision to withdraw from the military
integration of NATO. The French learned different lessons from the crisis
than did the British, as far as the collective identity of the transatlantic com-
munity was concerned. The case shows that actors' interpretations of specific
events may lead to changes in how they perceive their identity, which then
results in changing their practices.
In sum, the confrontation between the U.S. and its allies developed because
each side felt betrayed by the other in fundamental ways. The conflict of inter-
ests alone does not explain the confrontation. Such conflicts occurred before
and afterward without leading to a breakdown of the transatlantic commu-
nity, but they were usually resolved through cooperation and compromise -
note, for example, the almost continuous interallied disputes over nuclear
strategy and deployment options, which involved the survival interests of both
sides. During the Suez crisis, however, U.S. decision makers perceived the
allied deception as a violation of basic rules, norms, and procedures consti-
tuting the transatlantic community. No longer bound by the norms of appro-
priate behavior, the U.S. used its superior power and prevailed. Both sides
knew that they had violated the rules of the "alliance game" and engaged in
self-serving rhetoric to cover it up. More important, the U.S. and the British
worked hard to restore the transatlantic community, suggesting that they did
t I L 1: Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 185

not regard the sort of confrontations experienced during the Suez crisis as
appropriate behavior among democratic allies.
I conclude, therefore, that the Suez crisis confirms liberal expectations
about discourses and practices when fundamental norms governing the rela-
tionship are violated. Norm violation challenging the sense of community
among the allies provides the key to understanding the interactions leading to
the confrontation, the clash, and the restoration ot' the community.

While the Suez crisis is a case of norm violation, the Cuban missile crisis
shows the collective identity of the security community in action. It repre-
sents the most serious U.S.-Soviet confrontation of the Cold War. While we
k n o w today that neither side was prepared t o risk nuclear war over the
Soviet missiles in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy and General Secretary
Nikita Krushchev were each afraid that the other would escalate the con-
flict in ways that might get o u t of control." Decision rnakers in Washington
were convinced that the supreme national interests of the United States
were a t stake. Why care about allies when national survival is endangered?
Indeed, the conventional wisdom about the Cuban missile crisis holds that
the allies were not sufficiently consulted, even though U.S. decisions directly
affected their security. Even senior officials in the administration, such as
Roger Hilsman, then director of intelligence in the State Department,
thought that the U.S. had chosen not to consult the allies in order to pre-
serve its freedom of action: "If you had the French Government and the
British Government with all their hangups a n d D e Gaulle's hangups we
would never have done it, it's as simple as that."'"
I argue that - except tor the first week of the crisis - there was far more
interallied consultation than most scholars assume and that key allies, par-
ticularly the British and Turkish governments, knew about details of deci-
sion making in Washington. Moreover, the fate o f the Western Alliance was
the most important foreign policy concern for U.S. decision makers, except
for the direct confrontation with Moscow a n d Cuba. Strategic arguments
about reputation a n d the credibility of commitments explain these concerns
only t o a limited extent. First, as argued above, realism is indeterminate
with regard to allied consultation when the alliance leader's survival is per-
ceived t o be a t stake. Second, decision makers did not worry a t all about
their reputation in the Organization of American States (OAS), for ex-
ample, the other U S - l e d alliance, which was even more directly involved in
the Cuban missile crisis. Rather, if we assume a security community of
democracies, strategic concerns about reputation and credibility immedi-
ately make sense. At least, realism does not offer a better understanding of
these concerns than liberal theory.
Rut the Cuban missile crisis also poses a puzzle for liberal propositions
about the allied community of values and norms, since the U.S. violated these
186 Widening Security

rules during the first week of the crisis. Whether or not to consult the allies
was discussed during the very first meeting of the Executive Committee
(ExComm) on October 16. Secretary of State Dean Rusk argued strongly in
favor of consultation and maintained that unilateral U.S. action would put the
allies at risk, particularly if the U.S. decided in favor of a quick air strike. The
decision not to consult, however, did not free decision makers from concerns
about the Europeans. Membership in the community of democracies formed
part of the American identity, as a result of which decision makers continued
to define U.S. preferences in terms of joint interests rather than unilaterally.
There was unanimous consensus that U.S. inaction with regard to the Soviet
missile deployment in Cuba would be disastrous for U.S. credibility vis-a-vis
its allies.7" The reputation of the U.S. government was perceived to be at stake,
in both domestic and alliance politics. Decision makers in the ExComm did
not distinguish between the two. As a result, the decision not to consult key
allies during the first week strengthened the position of the "doves" in the
ExComm, who argued that an air strike and military action against the Soviet
installations in Cuba without prior consultation would wreck NATO.
During the second week of the crisis, the Europeans not only were regu-
larly informed about the U.S. deliberations but had ample opportunities to
influence American thinking through a variety of bilateral and multilateral
channels. Among the key allies, only the British chose to take advantage of
these opportunities, while France and West Germany strongly supported
the U.S. courses of action. President Kennedy had almost daily telephone
conversations with Prime Minister Macmillan - which even many of his
staff members did not realize.
The British were the most "dovish" of the major allies. They made sure,
for example, that U.S. forces in Europe were exempted from the general
alert status of U.S. troops. When Macmillan was briefed about the crisis, he
assured the president that Britain would support the U.S., but he mentioned
that Europeans had lived under the threat of Soviet nuclear weapons for
quite some time. Since the British had internally concluded that the naval
blockade of Cuba violated international law, Macmillan demanded that the
U.S. made a good legal case in favor of the quarantine. He then wondered
about possible Soviet reactions against the blockade, including attempts at
trading American bases in Europe or even West Berlin for the withdrawal
of the missiles from Cuba.76Kennedy perceived Macmillan's message as the
"best argument for taking no action."
The British prime minister was as concerned as President Kennedy that
the crisis might get out of control, and he favored a cooperative solution.
On October 24, he told David Ormsby-Gore, the British ambassador to the
U.S.: "If I am right in assuming that the President's mind is moving in the
direction of negotiations before the crisis worsens, I think that the most
fruitful course for you to pursue at the present might be to try to elicit from
him on what lines he may be contemplating a ~ o n f e r e n c e . " ~ ~
He suggested that the U.S. should raise the blockade if the Soviets refrained
from putting more missiles into Cuba. When Macmillan phoned Kennedy
\ 1 i; i i I Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 187

later, he urged the president not to rush and asked whether "a deal" could be
done. When the president asked for Macmillan's advice on a possible invasion
of Cuba, the prime minister strongly recommended against it.'x
Whether the British proposals for de-escalation made a crucial difference
in the U.S. decision-making process is unclear. It is safe to argue, however, that
the close contact between Kennedy, Macmillan, and Ormsby-Gore during the
sccond week o f the crisis strengthened and reinforced the president's view.
Given Kennedy's convictions about the importance of the Western Alliance,
which he expressed time and again during the crisis, it was significant that a
key ally whom he trusted fully endorsed his search for a "deal."
Two alliance issues strongly influenced the president's thinking during the
crisis. The first was the fate of Berlin. The American commitment to Berlin
was one more reason to preclude inaction against the Soviet missiles in
Cuba. As the president put it during the second ExComm meeting, if the
Soviets put missiles in Cuba without an American response, Moscow would
build more bases and then squeeze the West in Berlin." Concerns about
Berlin also served as another restraining factor on US. decisions. The city's
exposure inside the Soviet bloc made it an easy target of retaliatory action
against American moves in Cuba. Kennedy worried about Berlin almost con-
stantly. Fear of Soviet action against the essentially defenseless city was one
reason for his decision in favor of the blockade and against more forceful
military action.""
Kennedy's personal and emotional commitment to Berlin was again appar-
ent during the crucial ExComm meeting on October 27, when he was faced
with the choice between an air strike and a "missile swap":

What we're gomg to be faced w ~ t h1s - because we wouldn't t'lke the

m~ssrlesout of Turkey, then maybe we'll have to invade or make a mas-
slve strike on Cuba which may lose Berl~n.
... We all know how qu~cklyeverybody's courage goes when the
blood starts to flow, and that's what's g o ~ n gto happen In NATO ... We
start these thmgs and they grab Berlm, and everybody's gotng to say,
"Well that was a pretty good p r o p o s ~ t ~ o n . " ~ '

The Berlin issue symbolized the role of the North Atlantic Alliance in the
minds of U.S. decision makers throughout the crisis - precluding both inaction
and a rush to escalation. Concerns about the city and the fate of Europe in
general were causally consequential not by determining specific choices but by
constraining the range o f options available to decision makers. President
Kennedy and other ExComm members treated Berlin almost as if it were
another American city, for which American soldiers were supposed to die in
defense of their country. It did not seem to make a difference whether the fate
of Berlin or that of New York was at stake. Berlin symbolized the allied com-
munity and the values for which the Cold War was fought. It was the city's
very vulnerability to Soviet pressures that made it such a significant symbol for
the U.S. commitment to the defense of Europe.
188 Widening Security

While Berlin was an important concern of U.S. decision makers during the
crisis, it was peripheral to the solution to the crisis. The Jupiter medium-range
ballistic missiles (MRBMS) deployed under NATO arrangements in Turkey
and Italy became part and parcel of the crisis settlement. The Jupiter missiles
had been deployed following a 1957 NATO decision, on U.S. request. In the
meantime, the administration considered them dangerously vulnerable and
militarily obsolete. Kennedy would have preferred their withdrawal long
before, but the administration failed to persuade Turkey to give them up.
By the time of the Cuban missile crisis, the Jupiter missiles had become a
political symbol of alliance cohesion, of the U.S. commitment to NATO and
to Turkey in particular, which had just returned to democratic rule.
Not surprisingly, the Jupiter MRBMS became immediately linked to the
Soviet missile deployment in Cuba. Throughout the crisis, the administration
was divided over a "missile swap." The split cut across divisions between
departments and even led to differences of opinion within specific agencies
such as the State Department and the Pentagon. The topic of the Turkish
Jupiter bases also came up in various interallied discussions. A "missile swap"
was discussed in the British government, but London remained opposed to an
explicit "missile trade" throughout the crisis, despite its support for a "deal."
At the same time, the Turkish government began to raise concerns, particu-
larly when the Soviet ambassador in Ankara began to argue that Moscow
regarded the Jupiter missiles as its "Cuba." While Dean Rusk publicly denied
any connection between the Cuban missile crisis and any situation elsewhere
in the world, he hinted that, in the long run, disarmament negotiations could
deal with the location of weapons.x2
The administration also considered speeding up ~ l a n for s the Multilateral
Force (MLF), a sea-based nuclear force of American, British, and French sys-
tems under a joint NATO command, which had originally been proposed by
the Eisenhower administration. The U.S. then set its diplomatic machinery in
motion to anticipate how the allies would react to withdrawal of the Jupiter
missiles in such a conte~t.~"he U.S. ambassador to NATO, John Finletter,
responded along the lines already discussed in Washington. He argued that
Turkey regarded the Jupiter missiles as a symbol of the alliance commitment
to its defense and that no arrangement should be made without the approval
of the Turkish government. Finletter strongly advised against any open deal,
but then proposed a "small southern command multilateral seaborne force
on a 'pilot basis"' using Polaris submarines and manned by mixed U.S.,
Turkish, and Italian crews. Such an arrangement could allow the U.S. to offer
the withdrawal of the Jupiters to the soviet^.^^ While the U.S. ambassador to
Turkey cabled a gloomy assessment from Ankara, he also concurred that a
strictly secret deal with the Soviets was possible, together with some military
compensation for Turkey.85 These cables were discussed in the ExComm
meetings on October 27 and influenced the president's decisions.
Various U.S. ambassadors to NATO allies apparently talked to their
host governments about a secret "missile swap" despite an explicit directive
by Rusk not to talk about it. The networks provided by the transatlantic
I - I I Collective identity in a Democratic Community 189

institutions made it impossible to exclude allied officials from the deliber-

ations. British officials discussed a "missile swap"; so did NATO's permanent
representatives in Paris. Most important, the Turkish foreign ministry indi-
cated to the American and the British ambassadors that it was not completely
opposed to a removal of the Jupiters, to be discussed after a suitable lapse of
time and in a general NATO c o n t e ~ t The . ~ ~ president involved the British
ambassador in his deliberations and also asked the British to approach their
embassy in Ankara for a view on the matter.x-
When the crisis reached its climax on October 27, discussions that included
the State Department, the Pentagon, U.S. diplomats in Europe, NATO repre-
sentatives in Paris, and various allied governments - at least the British and the
Turks - had been held, and a solution had emerged. The solution entailed
a strictly secret deal between Washington and Moscow that included the
removal of the Jupiter missiles from Turkey in exchange for military compen-
sation, after the Soviets had withdrawn their missiles from Cuba.
On October 27, the ExComm devoted nlost of its meeting time to dis-
cussing the options of an air strike against Cuba versus a "missile swap." The
sense of allied community among ExComm members served as a frame of ref-
erence in which the various courses of action were discussed. Both sides in the
debate referred to the need to preserve NATO. Supporters of an air strike
argued that a missile trade would lead to the denuclearization of NATO and
indicate that the U.S. was prepared to tamper with the indivisibility of allied
security for selfish reasons. As McGeorge Bundy p ~it,~ "In t their (the Turkish1
own terms it would already be clear that we were trying to sell our allies for
our interests. That would be the view in all of NATO. It's irrational, and it's
crazy, but it's a terribly powerful fact."'"
The president was primarily concerned that the Soviet public demand
might provoke a public counterresponse by the Turkish government, which
would jeopardize a secret solution to the crisis. He argued that the U.S.
faced a dilemma. O n the one hand, the U.S. commitment to its allies was at
stake. On the other hand, many alliance members around the world might
regard a missile trade as a reasonable deal and would not understand if the
U.S. rejected it.*'
In the end, the proposal of a secret deal with the Soviets together with some
military compensation for the allies carried the day with the president. It was
agreed that the Jupiter missiles could not be removed without Turkish ap-
proval and that therefore the U.S. would have to persuade the government in
Ankara. A small group of Kennedy's advisers assembled after the ExComm
meeting and discussed an oral message to he transmitted to Anatoly Dobrynin,
the Soviet ambassador, by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Dean Rusk pro-
posed that Kennedy should simply tell Dobrynin that the US. was determined
to get the Jupiter missiles out o f Turkey as soon as the crisis was over. The
group also agreed to keep absolute secrecy about this in order to preserve allied
Shortly after the meeting of Kennedy's advisers, the president's brother
met with Ambassador Dobrynin and told him in rather dramatic terms that
190 Widening Security

the crisis was quickly escalating and that the U.S. might soon bomb the mis-
sile bases in Cuba, which could lead to war in Europe. He then told Dobrynin
with surprising openness that the U.S. was prepared to remove the Jupiter
missiles from Turkey but could do so only if the deal was kept secret, since
alliance unity was at stake.91 Khrushchev accepted the president's proposal,
thereby solving the crisis.
In sum, U.S. membership in an alliance of democratic states shaped the
process by which decision makers struggled over the definition of American
interests and preferences during the Cuban missile crisis. One could argue,
though, that the U.S. decisions were perfectly rational given the risks and
opportunities at hand and that reference to the transatlantic relationship is,
therefore, unnecessary to explain American behavior. The blockade, the non-
invasion pledge, and the secret "missile swap" were indeed perfectly rational
decisions. But a rational-choice account proves to be indeterminate unless
alliance considerations are factored in. The opposite arguments in favor of
escalating the crisis through an air strike or even an invasion were as rational
as those in support of the blockade or the "missile deal." Supporters of an
air strike correctly argued that the risks of escalation were minimal given
the overwhelming superiority of the U.S., both locally in the region and on
the global nuclear level. Only if Soviet retaliation against Europe was con-
sidered a problem could one make a rational argument against the air strike
and other escalatory steps. Berlin was the American Achilles heel during the
crisis, not New York City.
That U.S. decision makers did not distinguish between domestic and
European concerns, that they worried as much about the fate of Berlin as
about New York City, and that they regarded obsolete Jupiter missiles in
Turkey as major obstacles to the solution of the crisis - these puzzles make
sense if one assumes a security community of democratic nations, on behalf of
which the Kennedy administration acted. Membership in the Western Alliance
affected the identity of American actors in the sense that the "we" in whose
name the president decided incorporated the European allies. Those who
invoked potential allied concerns in the internal discourses added weight to
their arguments by referring to the collectively shared value of the community.
The alliance community as part of the American identity explains the lack of
distinction between domestic and alliance politics as well as the sense of com-
mitment that U.S. decision makers felt with regard to their allies. Reputational
concerns and the credibility of the U.S. commitment to NATO were at stake
during the Cuban missile crisis. But I submit that these worries can be better
understood within the framework of a security community based on collec-
tively shared values than on the basis of traditional alliance theory.

T h e End of t h e Cold W a r and t h e Future of NATO

Since 1985, the European security environment has changed dramatically. The
Cold War is over, the U.S.-Soviet rivalry gave way to a new partnership among
former opponents, Germany is united, the Warsaw Pact and even the Soviet
Union have ceased to exist. Fundamental parameters in the international
I I 1 11 Collective identity in a Democratic Community 191

environment of the transatlantic relationship h'ive been profoundly altered.

The world o f the 1990s 1s very different from the world of the 1950s and
1960s. Can we extrapolate anything from the study ot European-American
relations d u r ~ n gthe h e ~ g h tof the Cold War for the future of the trans-
a t l a n t ~ ct ~ e s ?
Contrary to Waltz~anassumptions, NATO rernalns ahve and well so far,
adlustmg to the new ~ n t c r n a t ~ o nenvironment:

In response to the end of the Cold War, NATO has started changing its
force structure. lnstead of heavily armored and mechanized divisions,
member states are setting u p intervention forces with increased mobility
in accordance with the NATO decision to build an allied rapid reaction
corps for "out-of-area" purposes.y2
As to relations with the former Cold War opponents, the North Atlantic
Cooperation Council was instituted in 1991, linking the sixteen allies with
Eastern Europe and the successor states of the Soviet Union. Two years
later, these countries joined a "partnership for peace," creating institu-
tionalized ties between NATO's integrated military command structure
and the Cast European and Russian militaries. Current debates center
around how central Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary,
and the Czech Republic could join the alliance without antagonizing
Russia and jeopardizing its legitimate security concerns."
The alliance has started playing a subsidiary role in UN-sponsored inter-
national peacekeeping and peace-enforcement missions, such as in the for-
mer Y~goslavia.'~ It is remarkable in this context that the profound conflict
of interest among the Western powers with regard to the war in Bosnia-
Herzegovina has not at all affected NATO. Rather, the U.S., Britain, France,
and Germany worked hard to ensure that their disagreements over Bosnia
would not adversely influence the transatlantic alliance.

1 have argued here that the Western Alliance represents an institutionaliza-

tion of the transatlantic security community based on common values and a
collective identity of liberal democracies." The Soviet domestic structure and
the values promoted by communism were regarded as alien to the community,
resulting in a threat perception of the Soviet Union as the potential enemy. The
democratization of the Soviet system initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev and con-
tinued by Boris Yeltsin then started ending the C:old War in Western eyes by
altering the "Otherness" of the Soviet system. The Gorbachev revolution con-
sisted primarily of embracing Western liberal v a l ~ ~ e s .While
'~ "glasnost"
introduced publicity into the Soviet political process, "perestroika" democra-
tized it. In response, Western threat perception gradually decreased, even
though at different rates and to different degrees. The Germans were the first
to declare the Cold War over. They reacted not only to the democratization of
the Soviet system but in particular to Gorbachev's foreign policy change
toward "comnlon security." Americans came last; Gorbachev needed to give
up Eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall had to tumble down in order to
convince them.
192 Widening Security

It should be noted, however, that this explanation has its limits. Liberal
theory as such does not suggest that democracies should behave cooperatively
toward democratizing states, as the West did toward the Soviet Union under
Gorbachev. The arguments put forward in the Kantian tradition pertain to
stable democracies. Since they relate to the social structure of international
relations, they cannot explain the specifics as well as the differences among
the Western responses to the Gorbachev revolution, i.e., agency.97But unlike
realism, a liberal argument about the transatlantic security community cor-
rectly predicts that these threat perceptions would wither away at some point
when former opponents democratize and thus begin entering the community
of liberal states.
The end of the Cold War, then, not only does not terminate the Western
community of values, it extends that community into Eastern Europe and,
potentially, into even the successor states of the Soviet Union, creating a
"pacific federation" of liberal democracies from Vladivostok to Berlin, San
Francisco, and Tokyo.98But liberal theory does not necessarily expect NATO
to last into the next century. It only assumes that the security partnership
among liberal democracies will persist in one institutionalized form or an-
other.99 If the democratization process in Russia gives way to authoritarian
nationalism, however, liberal theorists do expect NATO to remain the domin-
ant Western security institution and to regain its character as a defensive
alliance. In this case, NATO would be expected quickly to extend its security
guarantee to the new democracies in central Eastern Europe. But institution-
alist arguments suggest that a transformed NATO will remain the overarching
security community of the "pacific federation." It is easier to adjust an already
existing organization, which encompasses an elaborate set of rules and
decision-making procedures, to new conditions than it is to create new institu-
tions of security cooperation among the liberal democracies in the Northern
Hemisphere. The OSCE - not to mention the West European Union - would
have to be strengthened much further until they reach a comparable degree
of institutionalization.
NATO also provides a unique institutional framework for Europeans
to affect American policies. Liberal democracies successfully influence each
other in the framework of international institutions by using norms and joint
decision-making procedures as well as transnational politics. Playing by the
rules of these institutions, they do not just constrain their own freedom of
action; they also gain access to the decision-making processes of their part-
ners. Reducing the institutional ties might create the illusion of independence,
but it actually decreases one's impact.

Conclusions: How Unique is NATO?

I have argued in this essay that traditional alliance theories based on realist
thinking provide insufficient explanations of the origins, the interaction pat-
terns, and the persistence of NATO. The North Atlantic Alliance represents
an institutionalized pluralistic security community of liberal democracies.
I' I I 1 1 Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 193

Democracies not only do not fight each other, they are likely to develop a col-
lective identity facilitating the emergence of cooperative institutions for spe-
cific purposes. These institutions are characterized by democratic norms and
decision making rules that liberal states tend to externalize when dealing with
each other. The enactment of these norms and rules strengthens the sense of
community and the collective identity of the actors. Domestic features of lib-
eral democracies enable the community in the first place. But the institution-
alization of the community exerts independent effects on the interactions.
In the final analysis, then, democratic domestic structures, international insti-
tutions, and the collective identity of state actors do the explanatory work
But do the findings pertaining to the North Atlantic Alliance hold up
with regard to other alliances and cooperative institutions among democ-
racies? Comparisons can he made along two dimensions: the degree of insti-
tutionalization of the comn~unityand the extent to which collective identities
have developed among its members. The only international institution that
appears to score higher than NATO on both dimensions is the Euvopearz
Union (EU).""' While it is less integrated than NATO with regard to security
and foreign policy making, the EU features ~miquesupranational institutions
such as the European C h ~ m i s s i o nand the European Court of Justice. The
EU member states also coordinate their economic and monetary policies to
an unprecedented degree."" As far as collective identity is concerned, there
is a well-documented sense of common Europeanness among the elites of the
continental member states that partially extends into mass public opinion.
Interaction patterns within the EU closely resemble the transnational and
transgovernmental coalitions that have been found typical for decision mak-
ing in NATO.""
Compared with NATO and the EU, the C1.S.-Iapanese security relirtiovr-
ship appears to represent an interesting anomaly, in the sense that it is highly
institutionalized, but the collective identity component seems to be weaker.'"'
lapanese security was more dependent on the U.S. during the Cold War than
were Western Europe and even Germany. Strongly institutionalized trans-
national and transgovernmental ties developed among the military and the
detense establishments of the two countries. Apart from the elite level of the
governing party, however, the security relationship remained deeply con-
tested in Japanese domestic politics during the Cold War. As a result, the
U.S.-Japanese security cooperation certainly qualifies as a democratic alliance
establishing norms of consultation and compromise-oriented decision mak-
ing similar to those of NATO. But given the lack of collective identity, it is
less clear whether this alliance constitutes a "pluralistic security community"
in Deutsch's sense. The U.S.-Japanese example, then, shows that there is
some variation with regard to both institutionalization and identity compon-
ents in alliances among democracies.
In contrast, identity politics appears to be particularly strong in the U S -
lsraeli security relationship, as Michael Barnett argues. Again, the variation,
compared with NATO and the U.S.-Japanese alliance, seems to pertain to
the identity component, while the American alliance with Israel is as highly
194 Widening Security

institutionalized as the other security relationships discussed so far. As Barnett

points out, recent "strains in the relationship can be better explained by chal-
lenges to the collective sense of democratic community resulting from Israeli
policies than by changes in the international environment in which the two
states operate.
So far, I have looked only at security communities among democracies.
What about alliances involving nondemocraciest? If the liberal argument pres-
ented here holds true, we should find quite different interaction patterns in
such relationships, since the basic ingredients for the "democratic peace" are
missing. A thorough analysis is beyond the scope of this essay. But various
findings appear to suggest that, indeed, interaction patterns in nondemocratic
alliances are different and conform more closely to realist expectations, par-
ticularly realist bargaining theory. As to the Middle East, for example, Stephen
Walt has argued that common ideology played only a limited role in the for-
mation of alliances among Arab states. While Michael Barnett disagrees,
pointing to the significance of pan-Arabism, he also concurs that this collect-
ive identity has been weaker than the sense of community among democratic
allies such as the U.S. and Israel.lo4 A study comparing U.S. relations with
Latin America and interaction patterns within the former Warsaw Pact con-
cludes that these relations can well be analyzed within the framework of
public choice and realist bargaining theories.lo5
In sum, these comparisons suggest that NATO is not unique but exem-
plifies interaction patterns and collective identities that are quite common
for security communities among democracies. At the same time, these fea-
tures appear to distinguish democratic alliances from other security rela-
tionships. In this sense, alliances among democracies are indeed special,
since they can build upon a strong sense of community pertaining to the
domestic structures of liberal states. Nevertheless, the degree of institution-
alization as well as the extent to which "pluralistic security communities"
have emerged varies among democracies.

Author's Note

This essay summarizes, builds upon, and expands arguments developed in Thomas Risse-
Kappen, Cooperation Among Democracies: The European Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). Participation in the Social Science Research
Council - sponsored project under the directorship of Peter Katzenstein has greatly inspired
my thinking o n the subject of norms, identity, and social constructivism. For comments o n the
draft of this essay, I am very grateful t o the project participants, in particular Peter Katzenstein.
I am also indebted to Mark Laffey, David Latham, Fred H. Lawson, Stephen Walt, Steve
Weber, and several anonymous reviewers for their criticism and suggestions.


1. See, for example, Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power
and Peace, briefed. (1948;reprint, New York: McGraw Hill, 1993); Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory
1111 ( Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 195

of I~rtertz~ztional 1'01h-s (Reading, Mass.: Add~son-Wesley, 1979); George Liska, N~ltionsrn

Al11ane.r: T h l ~ r n r t sof Interdcpcntiencc (Kaltiniore: Johns Hopkins Univers~tyPress, 1962);
Arnold Wolfers, Disc-ord a n d CdlirOormtron (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962).
See also Ole R. tiolsti r t a/., Unity a n d Dlsrntegriltion irr I1ztern~7tro~rill Allianc-es (New York:
Wiley, 1973).
2. On this poltit, see Ron Jepperson, Alexander Wendt, and Peter J. Katzenste~n,"Norms,
Jdenrity, :,and Culture in N a t ~ o n a lSrcur~t);"essay 2 in this volume.
3 . Scc, f<,r cxamplc, M ~ c h a c lI)<,yle, .'Lihcralism ,1nd Wotld I'olttics," Arneric-arz P,j/iiicir/
Scre?rc-c Reviczc~ 80, no. 4 (1986): 11.51-69; Robert Keohane. "lnternat~onal Lihcr~lism
Reconsidered," in John I h n n , ed., T l ~ eb,conomic l m ~ i t sto Modern Polrtrcs, pp. 165-94
( C a n b r ~ d g e :Cambridge Un~versity Press, 1990); B r ~ ~ cRu\sett,e Grasping the l l ~ ~ n ~ o c r ~ ~ t r ~
Pcizcc: I'rrtzciplcs f i r a Post-Cold Wirr World (I'rinceton: Princeton Univers~tyPress, 19931.
4. O n this use of the term, see, for example, Joseph M. Grieco. "Anarchy and the 1.1mirs
of C:ooperation: A Realist <:r~tiquco f the Newest Liberal Itistiturionalism," lntcrmztional
Orgnzization 42, no. 3 (Summer 1988): 485-507; Roherr 0. Keohane, lnternatrond Irrsfrt~rtrons
a n d State Pozuer: Essays in Interrratronizl Relations Theory ( B o ~ ~ l d eWestview,
r: 1989). See .~lso
the discussion ot neoliberal~smin Peter J. Katzenstein, "Introduction: Alternative Perspect~veso n
National Security," essay 1 in t h ~ svolume.
5. For the tollow~ng,see Waltz, 7heory of lntrrnntionirl Polltrrs, ch. 6; and <;lrnn H.
Snyder, "Al11:incc Theory: A Neorealist First Cut," J o u r n c ~of l lntcrwat~onalAfiirs 44, n o . I
(Spring 1990):103-23.
6. See Stephen M . Walt, ' r . 1 ~Origrm
~ of Allraizccs (Irh,~ca:Cornell Un~versityPress, I987),
pp. 274-76. For thorough crit~quesof the Waltz~annorion of h~polarity,see, for example,
Richard Ned I.ehow, "The Long Peace, the End of the Cold War, m d the Failure of Realism,"
lntcmatrorzd Organizatlorz 48. n o . 2 (Spring 1994): 249-77; I<. Harrison W'lgner, "What Was
Bipolar~ty?"Infernationol Orcyirnit,ztirm 47, n o . 1 ( W ~ n t e r1997): 77-106.
7. See W'iltz, 'Theory of lntmnational l'olitics, pp. 106, 170-73. On "relative g a ~ n s "in par-
ticular, see <;rirco, "Anarchy ,ind the Llmits of Cooperation." For an argument char relative
gains are particul:irl) Import,int under h~polarit);see Duncan Snicial, "International Cooperation
A ~ n o n gRelative ( ; a ~ nMaxim~zers,"I n t c ~ n ~ z t ~ oSt~rifres
nal Qt~Lrrtcrly35, no. 4 (December 199 1 ):
8. W:llt, T l ~ cOrlglns o/Allrances.
9. On the o r ~ g i n sof NAT'O, see, tor example. Richard Best, "Coopcr~?tronwit11 I.rkc-
Mmded P P O ~ I C S "Hrit~sl!
: I n f / ~ i ~ won~ (Ainerican
~ Securrty I'o/rcy, 1945-1949 (Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood, 1986); Don Cook, korgin'y the Alli'r~zcc: NATO, 1945-1 970 ( h e w
York: Arbor Hoi~seiWilliamMorrow, 1989); Sir N ~ c h o l a sHenderson, The Rrrth o t NATO
(I.ondon: Weidenteld and Nicolson, 1982); Timothy P. Irel,irtd, Creating the E n t ~ z n g i i ~ g
Allznnc-e: The, Orrgrns of the North Atlirntlc Trrirty Orgdnization (Westport, C o n n . :
Greenwood, 198 l ) .
10. On this point, see W~gner,"Wh,~rWas Bipolarity?" and RolxrtJervis and Jack Snyder,
eds., Donzit1oc.s L~ntfRrznrizc~czgotrs:Strutegic Relrrf '2nd G r m t Power Comprtrtion ln thr
EurIzsran Rr~nlivrii( N e w YorL: Oxford University Press, 199 I ) .
1 1. John Lewrs <;addis, T i ~ Pr~7c.e(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 4 1. See
also M'ltthew Ev,ingelista, "Sr,llin'\ Postwar Arrny l<eappr~~iscd," International S~curit)'7, no. 3
(Winter 198218.3): 1 10-68; Jcinies I. Gorrnly, krom Pr~tsdanzto tl!e Cold War ( W i h n g t o n , I M :
Scholarly Resources, 199O), pp. 92-93; Melvyn P. I.etfler, "N,~tionalSecurity and U.S. Fore~gn
I'olicy," In Melvyn P. Leftlcr and David S. Painter, eds., Origins o f t l ~ rCold War, pp. 15-52, 25-27
(London: Routledge, 1994); Norberr W~ggershaus, "Nordatlmt~sche Kedrohungsperzept~orle~l
in1 'Kalten Krieg,' 3948-1956," In Klaus A. Meier et al., eds., L>as Nordiztlirntlsche Riindnis,
1919-19.56, pp. 17-54 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1993). Perceptions of a Soviet military threat
increased only after the confrontarion was already in full swing.
12. Waltz, Tl7eory of Internatlonnl P o l i t ~ s ,pp. 169, 170. Glenn Snyder ~ i p p l ~ ethis s
thought t o the tran\atlantic alllance: "It 1s abundantly cleal- t h x the European allies will nor
d o the Un~redSr.lte\' bidding when it is not In their own interest. but it is also clear that the)
h.iw little posit~vc~nfluenceover U.S. policv - when the l i n ~ r e dStares does nor wish to he
196 Widening Security

influenced. ... The word that most accurately describes their behavior is not domination or
even bargaining, but unilateralism" (Snyder, "Alliance Theory," p. 121).
13. Details in Risse-Kappen, Cooperation Among Democracies. See also Fred Chernoff,After
Bipolarity (Ann Arbor: University o f Michigan Press, 1994);Helga Haftendorn, Kemwaffen und
die Glaztbwiirdigkeit der Allianz (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1994); Elizabeth Shenvood, Allies in
Crisis: Meeting Global Challenges to Western Security (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).
14. For evidence, see Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, The War Trap (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1981); Stuart A. Bremer, "Dangerous Dyads: Conditions Affecting the Likelihood o f
Interstate War, 1816-1965," Journal of Conflict Resolution 36, no. 2 (1992):309-41.
15. On these propositions, see, for example, Michael Handel, Weak States in the International
System (London:Frank Cass, 1981);Holsti, Unity and Disintegration in International Alliances;
Glenn Snyder, "The Security Dilemma in Alliance Politics," World Politics 36, no. 4 (July1984):
461-96; Jan F. Triska, ed., Dominant Powers and Subordinate States (Durham: Duke University
Press, 1986).
16. At a U.S. Senate hearing in November 1990. Quoted from Gunther Hellmann and
Reinhard W o l f ,"Neorealism, Neoliberal Institutionalism, and the Future o f NATO," Security
Studies 3, no. 1 (Autumn 1993):3-43, 17. See also John J .Mearsheimer, "Back t o the Future:
Instability in Europe After the Cold War," International Security 15, no. 1 (1990):5-56.
17. See Charles Glaser, " W h y NATO Is Still Best: Future Security Arrangements for
Europe," International Security 18, no. 1 (Summer 1993):5-50.
18. As Kenneth Waltz himself put it, "With the aid o f a rationality assumption one still
cannot, from national interest alone, predict what the policy o f a country might be" (Waltz,
"Reflections on Theory of lnternational Politics: A Response to My Critics," in Robert
0. Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics, pp. 322-45 [New York: Columbia University Press,
19861, p. 331). On the indeterminate nature o f realism, see also Robert 0. Keohane, "Realism,
Neorealism, and the Study o f World Politics," ibid., pp. 1-26; Stephen Haggard, "Structuralism
and Its Critics: Recent Progress in International Relations Theory," in Emanuel Adler and Beverly
Crawford, eds., Progress in Postwar International Relations, pp. 403-37 (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1991).
19. John G. Ruggie, "Multilateralism: The Anatomy o f an Institution," lnternational
Organization 46, no. 3 (Summer 1992):561-98, 592.
20. For efforts at systematizing a liberal theory o f international relations, see Ernst-Otto
Czempiel, Friedensstrategien (Paderborn: Schoningh, 1986), pp. 110-67; Doyle, "Liberalism
and World Politics"; Keohane, "International Liberalism Reconsidered"; Andrew Moravcsik,
Liberalism and International Relations Theory, 2d ed., Working Paper Series (Cambridge:
Center for lnternational Affairs,Harvard University, 1993);Russett, Grasping the Democratic
Peace. My point o f departure is, thus, what Jepperson, Wendt, and Katzenstein call "neolib-
eralism" in "Norms, Identity, and Culture in National Security," essay 2 in this volume. But
drawing on insights from social constructivism, I argue that a liberal theory o f international
relations properly understood should be located in the upper-right - "sociological" - corner o f
figure 1 in the Jepperson, Wendt, and Katzenstein essay.
21. See Immanuel Kant, " Z u m ewigen Frieden: Ein philosophischer Entwurf" (1795),in
Wilhelm Weischedel, ed., lmmanuel Kant: Werke in sechs Banden (Frankfurt am Main: Insel-
Verlag, 1964),6: 193-251.
22. For the state o f the art, see Russett, Grasping the Democratic Peace. Two recent criticisms
o f the "democratic peace" finding seem to be empirically flawed. See Christopher Layne, "Kant
or Cant: The Myth o f the Democratic Peace," International Security 19, no. 2 (Fall 1994):5 4 9 ;
David E. Spiro, "The Insignificance o f the Liberal Peace," International Securrty 19, no. 2 (Fall
1994): 50-86. For the rebuttals, see John M. Owen, "How Liberalism Produces Democratic
Peace," International Security 19, no. 2 (Fall 1994):87-125; Bruce M. Russett, "The Democratic
Peace: And Yet It Moves," Intertzational Secttrity 19, no. 4 (Spring 1995): 164-75.
23. See Owen, "How Liberalism Promotes Peace"; Thomas Risse-Kappen, "Democratic
Peace -Warlike Democracies? A Social Constructivist Interpretation o f the Liberal Argument,"
European Journal of International Relations 1 , no. 4 (1995):489-515.
I:I ,r ? pix 11 Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 197

24. See the d~scussionin Russett, Grasping the Denzocratrr- P r ~ r ~ch.

e , 2.
25. See Alexander Wendt. "Collective Identity Forniation and the Internarlonal State,"
Ame~icanPolitical Science Kez~irw88. no. 2 (Sunlmer 1994): 384-96.
26. Doyle, "Liberalism a r d World Politics," p. 1 16 1 .
27. Kant, "Zum ewigen Frieden." p. 201.
28. See John Herz, Po/itrrLrl Keizlisn~ nnd Politrclrl Itlciilrsnr (Chicago: Un~versity of
Chicago Press, 19.51); Robert Jerws, "Cooperat~on Under the Security D~lemrna," W r l d
I'c>lrtrc> 3 0 . n o . 2 ( 1978): 167-1 14.
29. Karl W. Ikutsch et '11.. Polrtrccrl (~ornrn~inity and tlw North Atluntrc Areu (Princeton:
Princeton I J n ~ v e r s ~ I'res.;.
t? 19 i;)p,. 129.
30. See. for exaniple, Kenneth A. Oye, ed., Coopenrtron Under Amrch?~(Prmceron: i'rtnceron
Umversity Press, 1986). The "democrat~cp e x e " argument docs not suggest that authoritarian
s ~ a t e sare constantly in a state of m w n g themselves. Rather, I~hcraltheory posits that the
causes of peace a m m g autocracies at-c difterent from the causes tor the "dernocrxic pe;lcrv and
that cooperation ,itilong author~r,~r~,in regimes is likely to remain fragile.
3 1. Norms are "collective eupectntlons of proper behavtor tor a given idcnt~ty."In the tol-
lowing, I mainly use the terrn In the sense of rcgzilatrve n o r m that prescribe or proscribe
behavior for alread? constituted tdcntities. The ronstitrltive rri~rnrsof these tdentiries are the
values ;ind rules of democratic decision ~n,iking111 the d o m e s t ~ crealm. For these dist~ncrions,
see Jepperson, Wendt, and Katzenste~n,"Norms, Ident~ty,and Culture in National Security."
12. See Friedr~ch KrritocIi\v~I,KIIIOS,Norms, irm/ ~ ) L ' C I S ~ oO n~ St :l ~ e~onditrorrs of
l'rac-trc.lrl and I.r,qnI Reasonrn~rtr Intrnriltro~r~ilRelatrons irrril Domcstrc Affurrs (Cambrtdge:
Camhridgt. IJnivcrsity Press, 1989), p. 6.3.
3 3. See Robert I'utnam, "Lhplorn.icy ci~nd1)ornestic I'olttics: ' l h c Logic of Two-Lxvcl G;lnles,"
Internntronnl C)rgLirnsrtron4 2 ( 1988): 427-60; Peter 13. Evans, ki,irold K. Jacobson, and Robert
5. Putnarii, ccis., l ~ o ~ ~ O l e - E i ~I)rpl~~rni7c~
yc~t/ (Berkeley: Iln~versiryo f (:,ilifornia Press, 1993).
34. I thank M.lrk Lafie), Stcve Weber, and a n anonymous reviewer for alertlng me to the
following points.
35. This even \how\ up In qu,intitative studies. I n s t ~ n c e so t m~lirarizeddisputes ,lliiong
democracies have declined owl- t i ~ n e .Moreover, most d ~ s p u t e dcases of alleged war m i o n g
democracies occurred during the n~neteenth 'ind early twentieth centuries. For dat'i, see
liu5sett, Gr'rsprnq the Dcrnoc-ri7trr l'cLrcc,ch. 4.
16. John Me,irsheirner's d~scusswnof social c0nstr~1ctivis111 - which he mislabels "crit~c,ll
theory," therehy lumping together '1 variety of different approaches - suffers from the misun-
derstanding t h ~ ideational
t tnctors in world politics 'ire somehow more subject t o change t h ~ n
1i1ate1-~al ones. Collective ~ d e n t i t ~ cannot
es be changed l ~ k eclorhcs. See l o h n J. Mcarsheinicr,
"The False Promise of 11iternatton.ll Inst~tutions,"Intern~rtroniil Secrlrity 19, no. 3 ( W ~ n r e r
1994/95): .5-49.
37. As Altreci (;rosser put ~ t .19-15 was "no year zero"; s w Grosser, Thr Western AI1rmi-e:
htropcirn-Amerrc-an Relutrons Slrrce 103i (New York: Vmtage Kooks, 19821, pp. 3-.33. See also
Rohcrt i.arharn, "I.~hcralis~n's 01-der/l.tbeml~srn'sOther: A Genealogy of Threat," AltcrrrLrtrt~r~s
20, n o . I ( 1995): I I 1 4 6 , o n t h ~ spoint.
38. See, for example, J o h n Baylis, "Britain and the Fornlariotl of NATO" (lnternL1tion~l
Politics Research Paper no. 7, Department of Inrern,ltional I'oltt~cs, IJniversity Chllrge ot
Wales, Aberystwyth. 1989); Best, "(:ooperirtiorr witb Like-Mrtrtic>tiPeoples ";Henry B. Ky'ln,
The Visron of Anglo-Anterica (Cambridge: Crlmhr~dgeUn~versiryPress, 1987).
39. On the origins of the conralnrnent strategy, see, for example, John L. Gaddis, Strritegres
of C:ontuinn~ent(Oxford: Oxford Un~versity Press, 1982); (;addis, The Long Peacc, pp.
20-47; Deborah I..irson, Orr~rnsI I Containment: ~ A I'sychologic-Lll Explanatzon (Princeton:
Princeton University I'ress, 1985); David Mayers, Gc,orge Kewt~~in m d the Dilenzmas of 1J.S.
Foreign Policy (Oxford: Oxtord Unlversiry Press, 1988).
40. Overview In David D~niblehyand David Reynolds, An 01-ean Apart: The Relationship
Bettvecw Rrztarn irrrd Americo I I I the 'fiucwtirth Century (New York: Vintage Rooks, 1 98Y), pp.
I98 Widening Security

41. Quoted from Gaddis, The Long Peace, p. 30.

42. See Gormly, From Potsdam to the Cold War, pp. 94-111.
43. Quoted from Leffler, "National Security and U.S. Foreign Policy," p. 29.
44. For conflicting interpretations of U.S. strategic interests after World War 11, see Gaddis,
The Long Peace; Melvyn P. Leffler, The Preponderance of Power (Stanford: Stanford University
Press, 1992); Leffler, "National Security and U.S. Foreign Policy," pp. 23-26; Thomas J.
McCormick, America's Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). For an excellent overview on U.S. historiography on the
origins of the Cold War, see Anders Stephanson, "The United States," in David Reynolds, ed.,
The Origins of the Cold War in Europe: International Perspectives (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1994), pp. 23-52.
45. See Latham, "Liberalism's Order/Liberalism's Other," on this point.
46. Stephanson, "The United States," p. 50.
47. Quotes from Truman's speeches in March 1947, contained in Gaddis, The Long Peace,
p. 36.
48. See Kennan's "long telegram," in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the
United States, 1946 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office), 6: 696-709; 'X,'
"The Sources of Soviet Conduct," Foreign Affairs 25, no. 4 (July 1947).
49. See, for example, Robert Donovan, Tumultuous Years: The Presidency of Harry S.
Truman (New York: Norton, 1982); Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, pp. 14-20; Gormley,
From Potsdam to the Cold War.
50. On these alternatives, see Steve Weber, "Shaping the Postwar Balance of Power:
Multilateralism in NATO," International Organization 46, no. 3 (Summer 1992): 633-80,
635-38. See ibid, for the following.
51. The first two notions are based on Ruggie's definition of multilateralism. See Ruggie,
52. See, for example, Cook, Forging the Alliance; Henderson, The Birth of NATO; Ireland,
Creating the Entangling Alliance; Lawrence S. Kaplan, The Unrted States and NATO: The
Formative Years (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1984); Eilnio Di Nolfo, ed., The
Atlantic Pact: Forty Years Later (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1991); Meier et al., Das Nordatlantische
Biindnis, Norbert Wiggershaus and Roland G. Foerster, eds., Die westliche Sicherheitsgemeinschaft,
1948-1 950 (Boppard: Harald Boldt Verlag, 1988).
53. See Best, "Cooperation with Like-Minded Peoples. "
54. On the French position, see Bruna Bagnato, "France and the Origins of the Atlantic
Pact," in Di Nolfo, The Atlantic Pact, pp. 79-1 10; Norbert Wiggershaus, "The Other 'German
Question': The Foundation of the Atlantic Pact and the Problem of Security against Germany,"
in ibid., pp. 111-26; Pierre Guillen, "Frankreich und die Frage der Verteidigung Westeuropas,"
in Wiggershaus and Foerster, Die westliche Sicherheitsgemeinschaft, pp. 103-23.
55. For details on the treaty negotiations, see Cook, Forging the Alliance; Henderson, The
Birth of NATO; Ireland, Creating the Entangling Alliance; Sherwood, Allies in Crisis, pp. 5-29.
56. For details, see Risse-Kappen, Cooperation Among Democracies, ch. 3. For the fol-
lowing, see ibid., ch.5.
57. See, for example, Haftendorn, Kernwaffen und die Glaubwiirdrgkeit der Allianz;
Thomas Risse-Kappen, The Zero Option: INF, West Germany, and Arms Control (Boulder:
Westview, 1988). See also Chernoff, After Bipolarity.
58. Transgovernmental relations are defined as interactions among subunits of national
governments in the absence of central decisions. See Robert 0. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye,
Jr., "Transgovernmental Relations and International Organizations," World Polittcs 27
59. I essentially agree with Richard Neustadt's earlier analysis of the crisis. See his Alliance
Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970). For a similar argument, see Sherwood,
Allies in Crisis, pp. 58-94. The major studies on the Suez crisis are David Carlton, Britain and
the Suez Crisis (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988); Steven Z. Freiberger, Dawn over Suez (Chicago:
Iven R. Dee, 1992); Keith Kyle, Suez (New York: St. Martin's, 1991); Diane B. Kunz, The
Economic Diplomacy of the Suez Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
1991); Wm. Roger Louis and Roger Owen, eds., Suez 19S6 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).
I , p t , Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 199

60. See Diane K. Kunz, "The Importance of Having Money: The Economic Diplomacy of
the Suer Crisiu," in 1.ouis and Owen, Sstcz 1956, pp. 2 15-31. 2 18-19; Kunz, Thc Economic-
Ilrplortzrrcy of the Suez Crrsrs.
61. Selwyn l.lo>d, Suez 1956: A Personal Acco~tnt(London: lotlathan Cape, 19781, p. 38.
62. See "Menlorandurn ot Conversation at Kritish Foreign Offrce," Septernher 2 1, 19.56,
in U.S. Department of State, b o r r i p Kelirtrons of the linitcd Stirtcs, l9.Y.5-19.(7 Ihere~fter
FK U S 19.YT-19.571 (Washington, D.(:.: 11.5. Government Pr~ntingOffice, 1990), 16: 548-50.
6 3 . .'EJc.rl to S c l w y n I Ioyd," C)cr<,hcr 8, clucxcJ in Wnl. R<,gcr Imois, ''DulIes, Suer, <xr,J
the Br~tish,"in Richard Inlmerrnann, ed., / o l ~ nFostw Dulles a t d t l ~ eDiplomizcy of the C:old
W a y (Princeton: Pr~ncetonUn~versitvPress, 19901, pp. 1 3 3 4 8 , IS 1. For the Dulles quotes, cf.
[hid., pp. 149, 150; Rohert Bow~e,"Eisenhower, Dulles, and the sue^ Cr~sis,"in 1.ou1s and
Owen, Sucz 19.56, pp. 189-2 14, 204-5.
64. "1)~illest o Sclwyn l.loyd," October 19, FRIJS I9.5T-1957, 16: 760.
65. U S . anticolonialism, tor example, does not e x p l a ~ nAmerican behavior. During the
Falklands/hlalvinas war in 1982, tor example, the Keagan admin~srrariontacitly backed the
Br~tisheffort t o regain the islands even though it remained officially neutral in light o f its
alliance ohl~gationst o both A r g e n t ~ n ,(OAS)~ and Brita~n.
66. See "Memorandum for Secretary of Stare," August 28, FRUS 19.55-19.57, 16: 309;
"Secretary of State to U.S. Ernh,lssy UK," August 30, ihid.. pp. 3.39-40; "Dept. o f State to cer-
t a n diploniatic missions," August 31, ihid., pp. 344-45.
67. See "Depr. ot State t o U.S. Embassy UK," October 26, FRLIS 19Y5-19.57, 16: 790;
"U.S. Frnt~assyIsr,lrl t o I k p t . of State," October 26, ibid., p. 785; "Dept. of St'ire t o lJ.S.
Ernl~assyFrance," Octoher 29, ihid., pp. 815-16. For the following, see "Memorandum of
Conversation at I k p t . of State." Ocroher 28, ihid., pp. 803-4; "1I.S. F.mbassy UK t o Ilept. of
State," October 29, ihid., pp. X 17-20.
68. "Eisenhower t o Eden," Octoher 10, FRUS 1955-IW7, 16: 848-50. See 3 1 ~
"Memorandum of Conversat~onat the White House," Octoher 29, [hid., pp. 833-39; editor-
lal note, ibid., pp. 840-42; Bowie, "Eisenhower, Dulle5, and the Sue7 Crisis," pp. 208-9.
69. "Memorandurn of Conversar~ona t the Depr. of Stare," October 30, I-RIJS 19.5i-1c).57,
16:867-68. For d ~ kisenliower
c quotes, see "Mernorandunl of (hnference wlth the President,"
October 30, ihid., p. 873; "hlessage from Eisenhower to Eden," Octoher 30, ibid., p. 866;
"Mernoranduni of Conversation with the President," Octoher 30. ihid., pp. 851-5.5.
70. "1,orci ( : ~ c c ~ ,IlJK
i ,lnihassador in Waahingtonl t o FOI-e~gn Office," Novemhcr 28,
1956, quoted iron1 Louis, "Dulles, Suez, ,lnd the British," pp. 155-56.
71. "Memorandum of Conversation hetween the President ,lnd Dulles," (my emphasis!),
November 12, ER1I.S 1'1.5 5-1057, 16: 1 1 12-14. For the preceding quote, see "Memorandum
o f Telephone Con\,er\ation hvtween the President and Sir Eden," November 7, ibid., p. 1040.
72. See Sherwood, Allics Irl (:rrsrs, pp. 88-94.
73. For details, see Rich,lrd N. 1.ehow and Janice G. Ste~n.We All Lost t l ~ c(;old WUV
(Princeton: Princeton Un~versityPress, 19941, pp. 19-145. See ~ l s oMichael Beschloqs, 7%c.
Crisls Years (New York: Edw,ird Burl~ngameBooks, 199 I), pp. 4 3 1-575; James Blight, T l ~ c
Shattered (:rystid R d l (Savage, Md.: Rowman and 1.ittlefield. 1990); James Blight and David
Welch, O n I ~ J C Ljr~nk (New York: Hill and Wang, 1989); McGeorge Bundy, Dcrngcr ~ r r l t f
Stirvizd (New York: R,indom House, 19881, ch. 9; L.iurence CIi,ing and I'eter Kornbluh, eds.,
Thr Cuhan Missdc Crisis, 1962 (New York: New Press, 1992); Raymond Garthoff, Reflcrtiotrs
o n thr C11hm1MISS~IC Cris~s.rev. ed. (Washington, D.<:.: Krookings Institution, 1989).
74. "Interview with D a v ~ dNunnerly," In Nationd Security Archive, The Gdmz Mrss~l(~
Crisis, 1962 Ihereafter NSA: CMCI, microfiche collect~on(Wclsliington, I>.(:.: Chadwyck-
He'iley, 1990), Lhc. 032.5 1 . O n the alleged lack o f consultation, see Richard Kosecrance,
Defense of thc Kcwlnr (New York: Columbia Un~versityPress, 19861, p. 13; Sherwood, Allres
in Crisis, p. 122; 1. F. Stone, "Wh'it I'rice Prestige?" in Rolwrr A. Divine, ed., Thc Crrhnn
M~ssrleCrisrs, pp. 15 7-65 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 197 I ] .
7.5. As Koherr McNarnara put it later, "For all kinds of reasons, especiall) t o preserve
unity in the alliance, we had t o indicate t o the Soviets that we weren't going to accept the pres-
ence o f offensive miss~lesin <:ub,~"(quoted from Blight and Welch, O Hthe Hrink, p. 188). See
a l w "Ex(:omm Tr,lnscripts," Octoher 16, 1962, NSA: CMC, Lhc. 00622.
200 Widening Security

76. See Harold Macmillan, At the End of the Day, 1961-1963 (London: Macmillan,
1973), pp. 184-90. For the following quote see "507th NSC Meeting," October 22, NSA:
CMC, Doc. 00840.
77. "Foreign Office to Embassy Washington," October 24, in Public Records Office,
London, Diplomatic Correspondence Files [hereafter PRO: FO] 3711162378.
78. See Macmillan, At the End of the Day, pp. 198-203,202-4. See also Lebow and Stein,
We All Lost the Cold War, p. 121.
79. "White House Tapes and Minutes of the Cuban Missile Crisis," International Security
10, no, 1 (Summer 1985): 164-203, 185.
80. See, for example, the telephone conversation Macmillan-Kennedy, October 26, in
Macmillan, At the End of the Day, pp. 209-11.
81. "October 27, 1962: Transcripts of the Meetings of the ExComm," International
Security 12, no. 3 (Winter 1987188): 30-92, 55, 58.
82. For details, see "Ambassador Hare, Ankara, to State Dept.," October 23, NSA: CMC,
Doc. 01080; "Hare to State Dept.," October 24, ibid., Doc. 01260; "Rusk, Circular Cable,"
October 24, ibid., Doc. 01140; "Rusk to US Embassies, West Europe," October 25, ibid., Doc.
01294; "Rusk to US Embassy, Ankara," October 25, ibid., Doc. 01298.
83. "Dean Rusk to US Embassies to NATO and to Turkey," October 24, NSA: CMC, Doc.
84. "Finletter to State Dept.," October 25, NSA: CMC, Doc. 01328.
85. "Hare to State Dept." (Section I ) , October 26, NSA: CMC, Doc. 01470; "Hare to
State Dept." (Sections 2 and 3), October 26, NSA, Nuclear History Documents.
86. See "Embassy Ankara to Foreign Office," October 28, PRO: FO 3711162382; "Embassy
Ankara to Foreign Office," October 28, ibid. 3711162381, On discussions at NATO's headquar-
ters see "Finletter to State Dept.," October 28, NSA: CMC, Doc. 01602.
87. According to "Embassy Washington t o Foreign Office," October 27, PRO: FO
88. "October 27, 1962: Transcripts," p. 39.
89. Bromley Smith, "Summary Record of ExComm Meeting," October 27, NSA: CMC,
Doc. 01541. For the following see "October 27, 1962: Transcripts."
90. See Bundy, Danger and Survival, pp. 432-34;.
91. See Dobrynin's cable to Moscow, October 27, in Lebow and Stein, We All Lost the
Cold War, pp. 524-26.
92. If the alliance was disintegrating, one would expect the members to concentrate on the
defense of their national territories rather than building light and mobile forces. See Hellmann
and Wolf, "Neorealism, Neoliberal Institutionalism, and the Future of NATO," p. 22.
93. For details, see "North Atlantic Cooperation Council Statement," N A T O Press Service,
December 20,1991; Stephen Flanagan, "NATO and Central and Eastern Europe," Washington
Quarterly 15, no. 2 (Spring 1992): 141-51; "'Partnerschaft fiir den Frieden' mit Osteuropa.
Aber keine konkreten Zusagen fiir Mitgliedschaft," Suddeutsche Zeitung, January 11, 1994;
"NATO Chiefs Hail New Era, But War Still Casts Clouds," International Herald Tribune
[hereafter I H T ] , January 12, 1994; "Clinton Hints NATO Would Defend East from Attack,"
IHT, January 13, 1994.
94. See, for example, "Report by Ad-hoc Group of the North Atlantic Cooperation
Council on Cooperation for Peacekeeping," NATO Press Service, June 11, 1993; Hellmann
and Wolf, "Neorealism, Neoliberal Institutionalism, and the Future of NATO," p. 25.
95. See also Steve Weber, "Does NATO Have a Future?," in Beverly Crawford, ed., The
Future of European Security (Berkeley: University of California at Berkeley, Center for
German and European Studies, 1992), pp. 360-95. Emanuel Adler, "Europe's New Security
Order," in ibid., pp. 287-326, shares the assessment but comes to different conclusions regard-
ing the desirability of NATO.
96. On this point, see Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry, "The International Sources of
Soviet Change," International Security 16 (Winter 1991192): 74-1 18; Henry Nau, "Rethinking
Economics, Politics, and Security in Europe," in Richard N. Perle, ed., Reshaping Western
Security, pp. 11-46 (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute Press, 1991).
i I\ spl ~ v i Collective Identity in a Democratic Community 20 1

97. See Thomas Risse-Kllppen, "Ideas D o N o t Float treely: Transnat~onal Coalitions.

Domestic S t r u c t ~ ~ r eand s , the t.nd o f the Cold War," lntcrrrotronal Organrzatrrm 48, no. 2
(Spring 1'194): 185-214.
98. O n liberal and institut~onalistvisions of the f u t ~ ~ rofe European security, see Adler,
"Europe's New Security Order"; Ernst-Otto Gempiel, Weltpolrtik in1 Umbr~ich(Munich: Beck,
1991); James M. Goldgeier and Michael McF;lul, "A T ~ l of e 'l'wo Worlds: Core and Periphery
in the I'ost-Cold N'ar Era," 1?1ternutrorzalOrganization 46, no. 3 (Spring 1992): 467-9 I; Charles
Kupchan and C l ; i f d Kupch.111, "Concert.;, Collcct;vc Security, ~ n the d Future c't Furope,"
lntrrnatronal Sec~trtty16, no. 1 (Summer 199 1 ): 1 14-6 1 ; D~eterSenghaas, Frieeiensprolc4t
Eltropiz (Frankfurt a m Mam: Suhrknrnp, 1991); Stephen Van I'~er.1,"Primed for Peace: Europe
After the Cold War," Internntronill Secrtrity I S (Wmrer 1990/9 1 ): 7-57,
99. 1 thank Andrew Mornvcsik tor clarifying t h ~ spoint to me.
100. pattern\ ;Inlong the N o r d ~ c\taws come to m n d , too. Note that
Scandinavian cooper'ltion w ~ the s main example in I>eutsch'\ original stud) o n "plur,ll~st~c
security communities." See Ikutsch r t ir/., Political ( ~ o r i ~ r n r r nirnd i t ~ the North Atlnirtrc- Area.
101. See, for e ~ ~ i m p lAnne-hlar~ee, Burley and Walter M,lttli, "Europe Before the Court:
A Polltical Theory ot I.egal Integr.ition," Internirtior~i~l Org~~r~rzntiorr 47, n o . I (Winter 1993):
41-76; St'inley Hotfmann ~ n dRobert Keohdne, ecls.. Tl~cz N P I I ~Ertrop~fln (:on~iirrt~rit~~
(lloulder: Westv~ew,1991); (Alhert.1 Shragia, ed., ~ l t r o - P o / ~(Washington, /l~~~ I>.<:.: Rrook~ng\
Institution. 1992).
102. For d c t ~ ~ l ssee , R~chnrd M~inch, D~zs I'rolckt t,rrrol~ir: Zwrschctr Nafrorr~~lst~~at,
rrgionaler Aritonortrrc~ tmci WeltRc~~IIs(-/)Llft [Frankfurt 3111 hl.1111:Suhrkamp, 199.3); r\ntlion)
Smith, "National Identity .unJ the Ide;l of Europc.ln Unit);" I~rtc~rn~rtional Affizirs 68, n o . 1
(1992): 5i-76; Ole W ~ e v c ret ~ 1 . . "'l'he Struggle for 'Furope': trench and German (:o~lccptsof
S t ~ t c ,N,ir~on,and l l n ~ o n "(unpublished m.lnuscrlpt, 1993). O n,ll and
t r a ~ ~ \ g o v e r ~ ~ relations
~ i ~ e ~ ~ ~t ~v i~l t l thei ~ n EU see, tor example, l ) ~ v ~Canieron,d "'l'ran\11,ltional
K e h t ~ o n sand the I)evelopment of the European Econoniic and Monetary Un~on,"in 'I'lionus
Kisse-Kappen, ed., Krr~zgiir,qTrirn~n~rtrotr~~l Kc~l~rtromBd'-l: 111: .Stilt('Artom, D o m ~ s t .Vtr~t~trrws,
irnd I ~ ~ t r r n ~ z t r oI n ds t ~ t r ~ t r opp.
~ r ~37-78
, (C.lrnbridge: (.aml>r~dgcUn~vcrsityI'res,, 199.7).
10.3. See Re~nIi.lrd llritte, /irpirni Forrign I ' o l r ~ (l.ondon: Iioutledjie, 1990); Peter
K,lrzenstein and Yutuka Tsul~n,ik.~,"'Uully~ng,' 'Buy~nji.' and 'Binding': U.S.-Jap,~new I'r,ui\-
tlation,il lielation\ and I)otnc\tic Structures," in K~sse-K.lppen,NYIIIKIII~ Trizi?~n~rtro~rir/ Kc~lizt~ons
K'ri-k 112, pp. 79-1 11; Petei- Katzenstein d11d N O ~ L IO!ia\v.11-,1. O /i7/7i1nk Ni7tioni71 S~~~trrt!':
Str~tc.trtrrs.Norms, mtl Poliq*lic~sponses111 a CI~mgin,yWorld (lthdc.~:Cornell lJnive~-\~t) I'rw.
1Y93). See ~ l s oThomas Iierjier'.; contrihut~onto thi, \.olurne.
104. See Walt, T/JC Orlgi7rs of Allriznc-(~s;h41ch~elI~:trnctt. i ' l ~ i s t i t ~ ~ t i oRoles, ~ l s , .1n~l
Disorder. The <:.ise o f the hr.1h States System," ltrter11~7ti011r7l Strtdrrs C)rt~rrtc~rI~~ 37,no. 3
(September 1993): 271-96; scc also Karnett's contrlhution to t h ~ volume. \
105. See Tr~\k,i,Domr11i711iPOIOLJYS irnd S~tl~ordrn'r/('Stizl~s.
Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military
Order: The Middle Eastern Case
Keith Krause


ecent contributions to the debate over 'redefining security' or the
'renaissance of security studies' have called into question how the con-
cept of security should be defined, but have virtually ignored the issue
of whether or not the 'redefinition' or 'renaissance' has any analytic utility or
relevance to the security policies of the world beyond the advanced industrial
states of the 'North' (Booth, 1991; Haftendorn, 1991; Kolodziej, 1992; Walt,
1991b).With only a few exceptions (Ayoob, 1989,1995; Buzan, 1991), most
prominent analyses of security in the so-called 'Third World' have been
explicit extensions or amendments of concepts and models drawn from the
Western experience (Ayoob, 1995; Barnett and Levy, 1991; David 1991;
Levy and Barnett, 1992; Walt, 1987). Also with few exceptions (Ball, 1988;
Deger and West, 1987; Harkavy and Kolodziej, 1982; Neuman, 1984), little
actual research has been done on the external and internal factors that shape
security policies in the developing world. Hence the adequacy of Western
approaches to the 'quest for security' in the developing world can easily be
called into question at the conceptual level, but until the contours of an
alternative research agenda are more fully developed, such a critique will
remain purely theoretical.
This article moves towards such a research agenda by sketching a frame-
work for studying the quest for security in the developing world that goes
beyond the confines of mainstream security studies, and by demonstrating
its utility via a preliminary examination of the process of state formation
and 'military development' in the contemporary Middle East. My central
theses can be summarized as follows -

the struggle to control the institutions and instruments of organized

violence has been central to the emergence of the modern state, and its

Source: European]ournal of International Relations, 2(3) ( 1 9 9 6 ) :319-54.

j Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 203

conception of representative political institutions, civil society and civil-

military relations;
within the European state system, the resolution of this struggle produced
an externally-oriented conception of security, understood as a particular
set of ideas about the role and place of organized violence in political life;
0 this conception of security rested upon the unconditional legitimacy of
the state, a societal consensus over basic values and the near-elimination
of violence from political life, which permitted a strong identification of
the security of the state with the security of its citizens;
the basic social and political conditions that underpin this conception of
security d o not exist in many (or most) regions of the world;
hence, this 'orthodox' conception of security cannot adequately compre-
hend either the threats to state structures or regimes that d o not emerge
from other states, or the threats that states and regimes can pose to their
own citizens and societies;
the explanatory power of the orthodox conception of security is thus
severely limited, even with respect to questions considered central to
International Relations.

The language of these propositions does diverge from the 'threat, use and
control of military force' formulations central to mainstream conceptions of
security studies. My argument does not, however, claim that we should 'rede-
fine' security by somehow transcending or ignoring its intimate connection
to conflict, violence and force. In fact my goal is to engage more fully the
traditional concerns of security studies with the role of institutions and
instruments of organized violence in political life, but to d o so by focusing
attention on a wider range of elements of the 'quest for security' than are
usually treated in the literature. The goal of this article is not to sketch a
deductive model that can generate 'testable hypotheses', but rather to take
the prior step of sketching an 'explanatory logic' or framework that can be
usefully contrasted with the logic underlying the predominant approach to
understanding the quest for security in the developing world.
I begin with a brief overview of the existing International Relations litera-
ture on security in the developing world. Sections two and three then elab-
orate the foundations for a broader conception of sccurity, based upon the
literature on state fornlation and institutions of organized violence, and the
concept of 'military development' as the dynamic and specifically security-
oriented aspect of this process. Sections four and tive sketch a preliminary
case study of military development in the modern Middle East that demon-
strates the utility and scope of this approach for understanding the quest for
security along its regional, state and societal dimensions.

Security Studies and the Developing World

The orthodox conception of security emerges out of a familiar realist ontol-

ogy, which takes as its starting point a self-help world of states locked
204 Widening Security

within the security dilemma, and acting as utility maximizers who autono-
mously define their own interests. Under this rubric 'security studies is
defined as the study of the threat, use, and control of military force ... it
explores the conditions that make the use of force more likely, the ways that
the use of force affects individuals, states and societies, and the specific pol-
icies that states adopt in order to prepare for, prevent, or engage in war' (Walt,
1991b: 212, emphasis in original). Non-military phenomena are excluded on
the grounds that their inclusion 'would destroy [the] intellectual coherence [of
the field] and make it more difficult to devise solutions to any of these
important problems', and that 'it would be irresponsible ... to ignore the cen-
tral questions [of war and peace] that form the heart of the security studies
field' (Walt, 1991b: 213). This definition appears broad, for it not only
engages questions of the causes of war and conditions of peace, but also
seems to make room for studying the consequences of war-making and war-
preparation. In this sense, it goes beyond most conceptions of 'strategic
studies', which have been usually understood to deal narrowly with the first
part of the definition (Buzan, 1991: 23-5). But there is no doubt that it
remains constrained within a state-centric conception in which the threat of
violence is central: as Joseph Nye and Sean Lynn-Jones point out, 'a subject
that is only remotely related to central political problems of threat perception
and management among sovereign states would be regarded as peripheral'
(Nye and Lynn-Jones, 1988: 7).
The practical result of this has been that the most prominent debates on
security in the developing world have focused on a narrow range of issues.
The central orienting point has been the work of scholars such as Stephen
Walt, who has elaborated a structuralist account of interstate alliance for-
mation behaviour that is developed from Kenneth Waltz's balance of power
theory. He postulates that states 'balance against the states that pose the
greatest threat', whether or not these are the most powerful states in the sys-
tem (1987: 263), and has applied balance of threat theory to Southwest Asia
and the Middle East (Walt, 1987, 1991a). Walt has concluded that balancing
behaviour has been more prominent than 'bandwagoning', in these regions
throughout the cold war, once one takes his expanded conception of 'threat'
into the account of state behaviour.
There have been three main lines of challenge to this structuralist account.
The work of Steven David, Michael Barnett and Jack Levy has retained the
focus on alliance formation, but drawn domestic or internal factors into the
analysis. David argues that the central feature of Third World state behaviour
is 'omnibalancing', by which state rulers balance against both external and
internal threats to their rule, often 'appeasing other states ... in order to
counter the more immediate and dangerous domestic threats' (David, 1991:
236). Levy and Barnett go beyond this still narrow focus on political
threats, and argue 'that the most frequent threats to the domestic security
of Third World elites tend to originate in weaknesses in the domestic political
economy', with the goal of state managers being to balance domestic political
stability, economic considerations and external security threats (Levy and
Barnett, 1992: 23).
L Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 205

Another line of challenge that overlaps this argues that the security
problematic of most states in the developing world is conditioned by their
fundamental institutional and political weaknesses (Ayoob, 1989, 199 1,
1995; Azar and Moon, 1984; Korany, et dl., 1993; Sayigh, 1990). Most
developing world states are still weak qua states, and lack a basic societal
consensus over the core values that would structure political life: the nature
of governing institutions, the legitimacy of the state or the foundations of
political order (Ruzan, 199 1: 112-14). Hence threats emerge not only from
other states, but from within the state, or from groups that cut across state
boundaries. Security from the threat of organized violence remains a cen-
tral preoccupation, but it is subsumed under the hroader umbrella of vul-
nerabilities that 'threaten state boundaries, institutions or regime survival'
(Ayoob, 1991: 259), which must be understood in the context of the process
of state-building and the incorporation of post-colonial states into the con-
temporary world order.
The third challenge, represented by scholars such as Thomas Homer-
Dixon or Jessica Tuchman Mathews, has attempted to broaden the concept
of security (in the developing world and elsewhere) by arguing that external
threats of organized violence are far less urgent than other potential threats to
human well-being and survival, such as environmental degradation, refugee
flows, economic deprivation or communal conflicts (see, inter alia, Homer-
Dixon, 1991, 1994; Iaescher, 1992; Thomas, 1987; Tuchnian Mathews,
1989). But insofar as most scholars under this rubric have presented little
more than a 'shopping list' of possible threats to security, they have not shown
how security from violence, from environmental threats or from economic
deprivation (tor example) can be considered analytically similar or can be
integrated into a coherent 'model' for comprehending the security problem-
atic of the developing world.' Those who do attempt to construct more
robust analytic explanations, such as Homer-Dixon, end up conceding that
the central issue for security studies should remain the potential for violent
interstate conflict, although they do contribute a richer analysis of the poten-
tial causal chains that can lead to it (Gizewski and Homer-Dixon, 1995;
Homer-Dixon, 199 1, 1994; Percival and Homer-Dixon, 1995).
The work of almost all of these scholars ultimately revolves around, or
is oriented towards, questions generated by the neorealist security s t ~ ~ d i e s
problematic outlined above. Walt focuses entirely on the systemic dynamic
of interstate relations between rational actors, and attempts to test hypoth-
eses concerned with balancing or bandwagoning behaviour. His critics (Lhvid,
Ixvy and Barnett) incorporate domestic factors, hut their central analytic
goal is still to explain international alliance formation, rather than a hroader
range of outcomes or consequences of the quest tor security. Ayoob goes
somewhat further, by adding the historical dimension of state formation, but
he too remains committed to a state-centric vision that keeps the state and
its institutions as the primary referent point for security. Factors such as
famine or environmental degradation can become security issues, h u t only if
s ~ 'vi~lnernbilities
~ h ... threaten ... to bring down or significantly weaken
state structures, both territorial and institutional, as well as the regimes that
206 Widening Security

preside over these structures and profess to represent them internationally'

(Ayoob, 1991: 259). Homer-Dixon remains concerned with charting causal
pathways to violent interstate ~ o n f l i c t Similarly,
.~ although the voluminous
work of scholar-practitioners on the security problematic of various states
and regions pays little attention to the conceptual debates in the field, these
analysts concentrate overwhelmingly on the role of military force in interstate
relations, and thus also fit into the broad contours of a neorealist conception
of security and security studies (for examples from the Middle East see
Cordesman, 1993, 1994; Kemp, 1991; Yorke, 1988).3
The challenges to the spare structuralist vision of Walt contain important
insights but, with the partial exception of Ayoob, they ignore the crucial his-
torical context of the traditional conception of security and its intimate con-
nection to the question of controlling the instruments of organized violence.
The neorealist conception of security emerged historically as a consequence
of political struggles to establish the modern state, but the central concern
that drove this development was not the state, but rather the place of vio-
lence in political, social and economic life, both between and within com-
munities. As Albert Hirschman argues, this conception gains its power
simultaneously by establishing the pursuit of the 'national interest' at the
interstate level as a means for creating security and order and harnessing the
passions of princes, and by establishing the minimal conditions of loyalty to
the state (such as religious tolerance) that facilitate the peaceful pursuit of
other values and goods (Hirschman, 1977: 37, 51, 79). Security studies can
take for granted the 'outward-directed' nature of security only because of the
successful evacuation of organized violence from social and political life in
the idealized version of the modern state. Even Ayoob's acknowledgement of
the historicity of security ends up projecting an evolutionary path for Third
World state formation that is identical to that of Western states, thus also
accepting the historical end point that provides the very foundation on
which Stephen Walt's structuralist account is constructed.
A strict focus on 'the threat, use, and control of military force' also
obscures the way in which the idea of security that lies behind this emerged
as a shared value or concept within politically self-conscious communities.
'Security' is a potent signifier, and its invocation takes a phenomenon out
of the sphere of everyday politics and 'present[s it] as an existential threat
requiring emergency measures, and justifying actions outside the normal
bounds of political procedure' (Deudney, 1990: 466; Waever, 1995: 1).Behind
the modern instruments and institutions of organized violence that are the
focus of mainstream security studies lies a set of ideas about which collective
endeavours should fall under the sign of security, what the source of threats
are, and who the group is that should be secured. In the historical develop-
ment of the European state, the 'nation-state' emerged as the object of secur-
ity, other such entities were the source of threat, and military force was the
primary means of safeguarding the community. These should not, however, be
assumed to be settled issues in the rest of the world, and hence security stud-
ies needs to start its analysis at least one or two steps earlier in the process.
Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 207

State Formation and Security

To make this argument convincing, I would need to offer an account of how

the orthodox conception of security focusing on the threat of interstate vio-
lence emerged through the process of European state formation, and how it
presented our now-comn~onplaceunderstanding of the role of institutions
and iustrumci~tsof orKan;zeJ v;olence. This taLes u s beyond the nfirraw
'study of the threat, use and control of military force' (which presumes that
the understanding of security as restricted to external threats of force has
already been settled), and examines not only the interstate context, but the
matrix of statelsociety relations and the impact of institutions of organized
violence on processes of social, political and economic change. Although alien
to contemporary security studies, this is not an analytically long stretch: as
David Ralston has observed, 'how people prepare for and wage war, and
the organizations they create for that purpose, are in fact closely related to
the ways in which they deal with the other, more peaceable aspects of life
it1 society' (Kalston, 1990: 178).
The most suggestive architecture for comprehending this process has been
advanced by Charles Till): Tilly's metaphor of war-making and state-making
as organized crime is the starting point for an analysis of the dynamic process
by which the institutions o f organized violence :ire crucial to the emergence
of the modern state, and the different developmental paths the process of
state formation could take. His argument is that 'war makes states' - the
main impetus for consolidation of national states in Europe was preparation
for, and actual fighting of, wars (Rasler and Thompson, 1989; Tilly, 1985,
1990). The early modern 'Military Revolution' (15.50-1650) contributed
greatly to the creation and consolidation of the modern state through techno-
logical revolutions (the widespread use of cannon and gunpowder), changes in
the scale of warfare and concomitant revolutions in tactics and organization
that required vast state investments that were beyond the reach of many local
rulers (Finer, 1975; Hintze, 197.5; McNeill, 1983; Parker, 1988). Together
these changes catalyzed (if they did not almost dictate) the emergence of the
modern state, as medieval social and political structures were reshaped and
transformed. State-formation was also inextricably linked to regional and
global bids for hegemony and status, and was not exclusively an internal
process. The impact of war on state-making manifests itself in the political
realm through the extension of territorial control and the acquisition of a
monopoly of force, the emergence of centralized rule and administrative
structures and the erosion of local autonomy or prticularity. In the economic
realm, it was manifest through the innovation of public debt, the creation
and expansion of taxes and extractive bureaucracies and a 'ratchet effect' on
government expenditures that increased progressively the role of the state in
economic life.
Perhaps most ~niportantly,however, t h ~ sprocess of state-format~oncon-
tamed two open-ended evolutionary dynam~cs.F m t , a s y m b ~ o t ~relat~onsh~p
emerged between nawent state-makers and t h e ~ rwar-mak~ngapparatuses.
208 Widening Security

Because state-makers had to amass ever-increasing amounts of resources to

feed their expanding war machines, new political and socio-economic institu-
tions were absolutely essential to mobilize resources to build modern armies.
Thus, for example, the development of modern military organizations was
contemporaneous with the development of professional bureaucracies, and
'with the rise of the modern corporation and its elaborate system of planning'
(Perlmutter, 1977, 10). This symbiotic relationship between war-makers and
state-makers tilted over time in favour of the state-makers, who subordinated
the military to increasing degrees of control by civilians, and by other institu-
tions within the embryonic 'civil society'.
The second dynamic developed between state-makers and other groups
and forces within society. State-makers started by extracting- resources for
war-making and promising protection and security (against both internal
and external threats) in return for a monopoly over the use of force. Over
time, however, this required the forging of broader alliances within society,
which resulted in another symbiotic and reciprocally beneficial relationship,
this time between state-makers and other social groups. As Tilly describes it,
'agents of states bargained with civilian groups that controlled the resources
required for effective warmaking, and in bargaining gave the civilian groups
enforceable claims on the state'; these claims were ultimately politically
enfranchising, and 'led to a civilianization of government and domestic pol-
itics' (Tilly, 1990: 206).
Of course, Tilly's European 'model' of state-formation had many historical
variations (Downing, 1992), and it certainly does not encompass the only pos-
sible historical paths for newly-independent or emerging states. A straightfor-
ward application of it to the developing world encounters at least three analytic
difficulties. First, it seems not to be able to deal well with the phenomenon of
weak 'quasi-states' whose empirical sovereignty is extremely weak or non-
existent, but whose juridical sovereignty is sustained by a strong international
normative apparatus in the contemporary system (Herbst, 1989; Jackson,
1990). Quasi-states rarely (if ever) succumb to the contradictions of their pol-
ities or societies, and Tilly's evolutionary dynamics can hence be frozen, or take
pathological turns. Second, it does not easily incorporate the emergence of ren-
tier or predator states (such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia or other resource-rich new
states) whose autonomous revenue sources 'have an effect on state power very
different from those revenues that need to be extracted from the population
and that must consequently be negotiated with rather than imposed on social
groups' (Crystal, 1995: 197). Again, the relationship between state-makers and
social groups does not unfold along any of the paths outlined by Tilly, since the
motor of the process (increasing the resources at the disposal of the state) is not
'connected' to society. Finally, his model does not seem to allow consideration
of the radically different international circumstances in which states in differ-
ent times and places undertake their state-building projects (Herbst, 1990).
Particularly important is the extreme subordination, dependence and systemic
powerlessness of most post-1945 states, and the general absence of major
interstate wars. As Tilly himself points out,
i.,r I rLi2 Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 209

... the extension of the Europe-based state-making process to the rest of

the world ... did not result in the creation of states in the strict European
image ... states that have come into being recently through decoloniza-
tlon have acqulred their military organizatloil from the outside, without
the same mternal forgmg of mutual constraints between rulers and
ruled. (Tillv, 1985: 185-6)

Even given these shortcomings, however, the more general implication of

Tilly's emphasis on the role of institutions and instruments of organized vio-
lence in the process of state formation is worth preserving and pursuing.-'
My use of Tilly is meant to argue that any study of security policies and
practices in the developing world must be sensitive to historical processes
of state-formation that these are part of, and more importantly, must not a
priori reduce the condition of security strictly to the security of states and
regimes. Instead, it must tackle more broadly the historical and social con-
text in which security policies are framed and pursued, and, perhaps more
importantly, attempt to unpack the dynamic processes by which choices are
made over the sources of threats and the appropriate means to respond to
them. These choices not only have ramifications for the alliance formation
or external orientation of developing world states (and their propensity for
violent conflict) but for the ensemble of 'ways that the use of force affects
individuals, states and societies'. This latter part of Walt's definition of the
appropriate scope of security stud~eshas been almost entirely absent from
the securlty 5tudies l ~ t e r ~ t uon
r e the developing world.

Security a n d t h e C o n c e p t of 'Military D e v e l o p m e n t '

A concern with historical processes of state-formation and the role of institu-

tions of organized violence remains too broad an ambit for analysing the coil-
ditions of security and insecurity in the developing world, and the institutions
and instruments designed to achieve it. We can move from these general issues
to the more narrow concerns of security studies by addressing questions that
can be grouped along three different dimensions or levels -

reg~onal/lnterstatesecurlty - what threats do \t,Ite\ pose to each other?

st~telregmesecurity - what threats do the Instrtutwns of organized violence
pose to the Institutions of the state or reg~me?
\ocletal/md~c~dual 5ecurlty - what threats d o those who control the mems
of v~olencepose to cltizens and society?

Although the Interstate d m e n s ~ o nof conflict in the developmg world renuins

an iniportmt factor In t h ~ sapproach, attention must also be p a ~ dto evolving
patterns of mternal ~ o n f l l c tand clvll-ndltary relat~ons.More importantly,
the d~rectionof ' c a u ~ a l 'relat~onsh~ps IS not specifled - I d o not assume
LZ ~ Y I O Y that
Z the quest tor securlty IS drlven solely hy the existence of states
2 10 Widening Security

in a self-help system, and that the state-level and societal dimensions of

security/insecurity are merely consequences of these developments. The ques-
tion of which dimension of security is most determinant at any time and
place is an empirical one. One should actually expect to find the three
dimensions interacting in different ways, with measures taken on one dimen-
sion perhaps decreasing security along another.
The idea of different 'levels' of security is not novel. The most important
innovation, however, is the shift to a different conceptual language that
focuses on the process of military development and the insertion of new
states into a global security ordex5 The resonance with International Political
Economy concepts such as the 'global economic order' and the process of
'economic development' is not accidental. Jill Crystal's (1994) survey of
recent scholarship on the emergence and perpetuation of authoritarian rule
in the Middle East offers political economy explanations, in which a state's
position in the world economy and its path of economic development
greatly influence the way in which authoritarian rule evolves. Scholars in
this tradition share an understanding of what 'the global economy', and
'economic development' are. This analogy with political economy concepts
is not, however, meant to decouple economic and security issues, which can
be intertwined in complex ways (such as the link between industrialization
and modern weaponry, between economic scarcity and intrastate conflict,
or between external alliance choices and the domestic political economy).
Instead, my intention is to highlight the lack of similarly well-articulated
and consciously applied 'framework' concepts for security studies, within
which research on the dynamics of regional, state and societal security
could be conducted. The concepts of military development and a global
security order are intended to move in that direction.
The reasons for this lacunae in the scholarly literature are complex, but
one issue in particular should be noted. The literature on 'modernization'
of the 1950s and 1960s (Fisher, 1963; Janowitz, 1988; Johnson, 1962) did
attempt to analyse the role of the military in the transition from so-called
traditional to modern societies by regarding the military as a generally pos-
itive force within postcolonial societies: a conduit for modernizing influ-
ences, an integrative organization in fractured polities and an instrument of
the 'new middle class' that could be the vanguard of modernization (Halpern,
1962: 278-9; Hurewitz, 1969: 419-37; for critical overviews see Ball, 1988:
5-18; Owen, 1978). This literature was, however, crippled by the same
flaws that afflicted the broader modernization literature - it misread the
evolutionary experience of European states, it mistakenly conceptualized
the state and statelsociety relations in Western pluralist terms, it ignored the
impact of external forces and relationships on domestic political change,
and its concern with military rule or military intervention missed the 'mili-
tarization' of politics and society that had occurred in many parts of the
developing world. While the theories of economic development proposed
by modernization theorists did generate a critique (dependency theory) and
I Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 21 1

counter-critique that fuelled research and debate, no such development

occurred within the literature on 'military modernization', with the possible
exception of the literature o n militarization (Eide and Thee, 1980; Wolpin,
1986). Perhaps the reason for this can be found in the general reluctance of
scholars to deal with the organized use of violence, especially in light of the
badly flawed analyses of the 'military as modernizer' literature. Rut this
strategy of neglect has made much scholarship irrelevant to understa~iding
the consequences of the massive upheavals unleashed by the process of mili-
tary development in the postcolonial world.
The main elements of the global security order are analogous to those of
the 'global economic order'. They include such things as: local or regional con-
flict dynamics, the pursuit of status or hegemony, relations of power between
dominant and subordinate actors, governing ideologies that shape state secur-
ity policies, and forces such as technological innovation. Within this, milit~~ry
development is the process that is catalyzed by the diffusion of 'nlodern' mili-
tary technologies and techniques of organization to post-colonial states.
It goes beyond simple measures of the growth and modernization of arnled
forces, or of the transfer of technologies of warfare, t o encompass -

the development of m ~ l ~ t a doctrmes

ry (e.g. m a s v. ehte armles, central-
z e d v. decentrailzed control, defens~vev. offens~veforce postures);
the creatlon of anc~lldryqtate and soc~etal~ n s t ~ t u t ~ and
o n s practices (forms
patterns and norms of md~taryrecruitment and
o f c ~ v ~ l - m ~ l ~relat~ons,
educat~on,c l a ~ m son economlc and s o c ~ a resources);
the cho~cesbetween d~fferento ~ e r ~ ~ r c h concepts
lng of securlty (who or
what represents the thre'lt, and how best to counter ~ tthat ) are ~ c c e p t e d
by (or 1mpo4ed on) socletles and states CISthe lust~f~catlon for construct-
Ing modern r n ~ l ~ t a restablishments.

Insecurity and Military Development in the Modern Middle East

Two questions provide good starting points to demonstrate how such an

approach can analyse security and insecurity in the contemporary Middle
East -

0 what have been the most important sources of insecurity driving the
development and use of institutions of organized violence in postcolorlid
Middle Eastern states/societies?
how have patterns of military development within Middle Eastern states
had an impact on the three dimensions of s e c ~ ~ r i outlined
ty above?

In principle, this approach could examine postcolonial states of Africa, the

Middle East or Asia, J S the processes of state-building and regime consoli-
dation have occurred simultaneously with the incorporation of these states
2 12 Widening Security

into the global security order. My analysis, however, will concentrate on the
Middle East, since it presents in a stark form many important features. By
virtually any indicator one chooses, the Middle East is the most highly mili-
tarized region of the globe. Other states may have larger armies, arsenals or
defense budgets, but in comparative terms (relative to population or wealth),
Middle Eastern states rank at or near the top on many indices. Table 1 sum-
marizes some of these figures. Further, the importance of interstate conflict
makes the region a 'hard case' for my argument, since if I can demonstrate
(even in a preliminary fashion) that factors other than interstate conflict
need to be adduced in order to explain patterns of insecurity and military
development in the region, then its utility in other regional contexts will be
more securely established. Finally, the degree of state terror and repression
in many states of the region is also high and organized violence (covert or
overt) has been pervasive in political and social life.
The first step towards challenging a structuralist account of state policy
is to establish, even provisionally, that the expansion of the military cap-
abilities of Middle Eastern states occurred in response to both internal and
interstate imperatives. Until independence, most Middle Eastern states pos-
sessed only small 'constabulary' forces, suitable for maintaining internal
order and supporting the regime, and dependent upon the external patron
for training, materials and leadership. In Iraq, for example, Britain under-
took after 1921 to train the Iraqi officer corps (which had inherited most
of its personnel from Ottoman service) and to support the army with spe-
cific British-led forces (the Assyrian levies) and the Royal Air Force.

Table 1: Military Indicators, Selected Middle Eastern States, 1991

Mil. Expend./ Armed Forces/ Weapons/ Weapons/

CNP Popul. personnelb Personnel
(global rank) (global rank) (ratio) (global rank)
Syria 7 3 9
Iraq 2 7 5 3'
Egypt 63 47 64
Jordan 13 4 15
Saudi Arabia 3 28 7
Algeria 104 72 25
Israel 18 2.' 21
Morocco 43 50 59
"Figures used in column two on Israel's armed forces do not include reserve forces. Actual
strength has varied between three and five times the active force level. The ratio (and global
rank) assume an Israeli force of 650,000, the number (excluding reserve forces) is about
"The Weapons/Personnel ratio measures the number of major weapons systems per thousand
'This ratio (and the global rank) assume an Iraqi force of 1.6 million soldiers, the real number
was probably closer to 800,000. The recalculated figures would be: 7.56 (ratio) and rank of 22.
Source: Columns one and two from United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
(1994). Columns three and four (using 1985 data) from Wendt and Barnett (1993).
I I 1 Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 21 3

Although Britain wanted to reduce the costs of maintaining Iraq's defences,

it also wanted Iraq to create a small professional (non-conscript) army.
Thus at independence in 1932, Iraq's armed forces numbered 11,500
(Hemphill, 1979). The Iraqi story was typical - in Jordan at independence
in 1946 the Arab Legion numbered 6000 (and was British led until 1956);
in Syria in 1945 the army was 5000 strong (not including the French
T r o u p e s Speciales); i n E g y p t it was around 25,000; in Saudi Arabia it was
probably around 10,000 in 1947 (mostly tribal forces) (Be'eri, 1970: 335;
Glubb, 19.57: 90; Hurewitz, 1969: 250, 450). These forces were almost
exclusively used for maintaining internal order, and were seldom suitable
for major war-fighting. Not all states, however, gained independence with
small armies. Israel had an army of roughly 50,000 in 1948; Algeria after
the war of independence had an armed force of about 130,000 (which was
reduced by 1964 to 65,000) (Hurewitz, 1969: 189, 365). Morocco received
upon independence in 1956 the transfer of 26,000 soldiers from the French
and Spanish armies (some of whom had experience in World War 11), in
addition to a few thousand independence fighters w h o were incorporated
into the armed forces (Hurewitz, 1969: 340).
The growth of armed forces in the region is summarized in Table 2,
which charts changes in the number of soldiers of these eight states since
World War 11. Although it does not correct for increases in population, the
trend towards relatively massive military establishments is clear. These forces
appear, however, to have grown in response to both externallsystemic and
internal threats and insecurities. Even w i t h o ~ discussing
~t in detail the more
involved aspects of military development (recruitment patterns, military doc-
trines, threat assessment), some suggestive evidence can be assembled.
In several states, the experience of interstate war generated an immediate
and pressing security conceru that fuelled military cle~dopment.The growth
of armed forces in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Syria was catalyzed by the 1948
and 1956 wars. The Egyptian army rose from 2.5 to 30,000 soldiers in 1948
to 80,000 by 195.5, Jordan's army increased from 6000 to 23,000 in the same
period, Syria's army grew from 5000 to 25,000 and Israel's from around
90,000 (including civilian reserves) to 250,000 (Hurewitz, 1969: 4.50). Once
new levels were reached, they set benchmarks for further expansion, as the
armed forces never shrank (until recently), and their growth tended to outpace
population growth in the region. The systemic influence of incorporation into
the global security order, and the accompanying projection of the American-
Soviet rivalry on to the Middle East, also played some role in the process o f
military development. American military assistance efforts included the ill-
fated Baghdad Pact, and the development of close military-security relation-
ships with Israel (after 1967), Saudi Arabia (after 1965) and Egypt (after
1979). Soviet relationships with Egypt (after 195.5), Syria (after 1956) and
Iraq (after 19.58) were :lnalogo~~s. In both cases, rnassive amounts of arms
and military assistance were provided either at low cost, or via privileged
access. Although these military assistance relationships did not create durable
ties of bargaining influence hetween patrons and clients, and although the
2 14 Widening Security

Table 2: Armed Forces of Selected Middle Eastern States, 1946-90

1946/48 1954/55 1960 1970 1980 1990

Syria 5,000" 25,000 45,000 75,000 250,000 408,000
Iraq 25,000 40,000 70,000 95,000 430,000 500,000+b
Egypt 25,000+ 80,000 100,000 255,000 447,000 434,000
Jordan 6,000 23,000 36,500 70,000 65,000 100,000
Saudi Arabia 10,000 10,000' 35,000' 65,000 79,000 146,000
Morocco - 28,000 30,000 65,000 117,000 195,000
Algeria - - 130,000d 80,000 101,000 126,000
Israele 50,000 54,000 65,000 105,000 196,000 190,000
"Figures for 194516 from Be'eri (1970: 335). By the end o f the 1948 war Syrian forces had
increased to 12,000.
"This includes only regular forces. Mobilized reserves bring the total over 1,000,000. Figure
from International Institute for Strategic Studies (1990).By 1994 the regular force had shrunk
to about 380,000 (Cordesman, 1994: 194).
<The figure o f 10,000 'modern' forces is for 1943 from Hurewitz (1969: 250). Cordesman
(1984: 101) lists forces in 1956 at 20-30,000, o f which half were regular army (firqa),half
bedouin irregulars (liwa).Safran (1985: 6 8 ) notes that American officersestimated the number
o f regular Saudi troops at between 7500 and 10,000 in 1953. This excluded the royal body-
guard, paramilitary and tribal forces, which would have more than doubled this total. I have
thus selected 30,000 as the appropriate figure. The third column figure is for 1963, not 1960.
dAlgerian figure for 1962 from Hurewitz (1969: 189) was made up o f the regular 'external'
army (40,000) and the guerrilla forces (90,000). By 1964 the force had been reduced to
eFigures on Israel's armed forces do not include reserve forces. Actual strength has varied
between three and five times the active force level. Figures from 1945 are from Hurewitz
(1969: 365), and have been calculated for 1955 using the same ratio between his figures and
the ACDA figures as for the early 1960s.
Source: Figures from 1970 to 1990 are from the United States Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency (various years). Figures prior to that are (except where indicated) from Hurewitz (1969).

socialization effect of military assistance appears to be small, links with

external powers have shaped the pattern of military development of post-
colonial states, and have helped incorporate these states into a global military
system (Krause, 1991). As a simple counter-factual, one could ask whether,
in the absence of links with external patrons, the Syrians, Saudis, Egyptians
or Iraqis would have constructed (or been able to construct) the same military
establishments as emerged between 1960 and 1990.
But a second set of forces - the pressure to use the army internally as a
vehicle to hasten the process of state formation - was also at work. This
pressure manifested itself most clearly in states that possessed low levels of
legitimacy or weak and fragmented national identities. Iraq was a classic
example - in the first four years after independence the army was doubled
in size (to around 23,000), conscription was introduced, and nationalist
political figures embraced the army as the symbol and defender of the nation.
The coup de grace was the crushing of a 'revolt' by the Assyrians, which
established the army's position as a critical prop for the central government
Insecurity a n d S t a t e Formation in t h e Global Military Order 2 15

and a force for national integration (Abbas, 1989: 203-7; Hemphill, 1979).h
The first military coup occurred only three years later. In Syria, the early
rapid expansion o f the armed forces in the mid-19.50s coincided with their
use in the crushing of unrest and revolt among the Druzes, and to a lesser
extent the Alawis (Ma'oz, 1972: 399). A similar pattern was manifest in
Saudi Arahia, albeit somewhat earlier. The lkhuun (religious) and tribal
forces of Ibn Saud conquered and unified most of the diverse tribes of the
peninsula in the 1920s hefore formal statehood was achieved in 1932. As
Nadav Safran (1985: 59) has argued, 'Ibn Saud's basic security concern ... in
the period up to World War 11 ... was internal rather than external threats, and
the practical problem was money.' He concludes that between 30 and 50% of
state revenues were spent on defence and security. The armed forces fell into
disuse and disrepair until the 1950s, when the political threat from Nasserist
Egypt to the Saudi monarchy (including coup attempts) triggered the estab-
lishment of a loyal armed force which was quickly expanded (with American
assistance) throughout the late 19.50s (Cordesman, 1984: 92-1 05; Safran,
1985: 103-10).
In many cases, armed forces rhetorically patterned on Western models (to
defend the state against external threats to its territorial integrity and national
interests) evinced a deeper concern with internal security. Their primary mis-
sion has tended to be the defence of a particular ruling elite against internal
threats to its control that rise from its narrow base o f support, or from a frac-
tured polity. In some cases these internal and external security missions were
fused for the entire armed forces; in others, strong 'royal guard' or elite forces
were tasked with maintaining regime security, while opposition groups were
shunted into 'gendarmerie' or semi-regular forces. For example, in Jordan
after the coup attempt of 1957, the regime depended upon loyal Royal Guards
brigades, and when the largely Palestinian national guard (which was as large
as the regular army) was incorporated into the regular army in 196.5, only
4 0 % of its men were accepted (Hurewitz, 1969: 323; Safran, 1969: 440).
The regime still possesses a 10,000-strong para-military force (International
Institute for Strategic Studies, 1994). In Saudi Arabia, 'for internal defense the
Saudi clan continued placing primary confidence in the tribal forces [the White
Army]', which were as large as the regular forces (Hurewitz, 1969: 251). The
White Army (renamed the National Guard in 1963) was also an important
means of maintaining loyalty to the Saudi regime and funnelling money to
tribal and village leaders. It was modernized in the early 1970s, and through
the 1970s and 1980s it was more than two-thirds the size of the regular
forces. In the 1970s the National Guard had 25,000 men, compared to reg-
ular forces of 35-45,000; in 1994, it had 57,000 active members (with 20,000
tribal levies) compared t o a regular force of 104,000 (Cordesman, 1984:
173-8, 218-21, 229; International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1994). In
Syria, Hafez Asad's brother controlled (between 1971 and 1983) a 50,000-
man elite force (savaya al-difa') tasked with protecting the regime; this was
later supplemented with a 10,000 strong Presidential Guard (Drysdale, 1985:
2 16 widening Security

248; Middle East Watch, 1991: 38-9). The regime also relies upon various
special forces and 'political' military units, although the Defence Brigades
have been subsequently reduced in size after they threatened regime stability.
In Iraq, the Republican Guard, which was created in 1963 as a sort of 'elite
corps of the regime', was supplemented later by the 'People's Army', a 75,000
strong (in 1979) adjunct of the Ba'ath party itself (Farouk-Sluglett and
Sluglett, 1990: 93-4, 184).
While one cannot specify precisely the balance between internal and systemic
pressures, it is clear that both played a role in the process of military develop-
ment in the Middle East. The most straightforward implication of this (echoing
Barnett, Levy and David), is that domestic imperatives need to be incorporated
even into explanations that focus strictly on the alliance formation or external
orientation of Middle Eastern states. A more subtle implication, however, is that
the process of responding to internal and external forces has consequences for
the 'quest for security' that go beyond the level of state interactions, but which
can only be grasped if one adopts a broader conception of the scope of security
studies. It is to this interrelationship between military development and the quest
for security that I now turn.

Three Dimensions of the Quest for Security in the Middle East

Much more could be said about the specific circumstances that fuelled mili-
tary development in these Middle Eastern states, but this sketch allows me at
least to outline the interrelationships between the process of military devel-
opment and the quest for security. At this stage, the discussion is more taxo-
nomical than analytic, but since my main purpose is to establish the necessity
of studying the different dimensions simultaneously to generate robust
explanations, the more analytical task can be deferred. The consequences of
this process of military development can be analysed along the three dimen-
sions of security outlined previously - threats states pose to each other,
threats posed by the institutions of organized violence to state institutions
or regimes, and threats posed by those who control the means of violence to
citizens and society. For reasons of presentation, I will start with the state and
societal levels, and deal with the regionallinterstate dimension of security last.

State/Regime Security

In most Middle East scholarship, the relationship between 'state-makers'

and 'war-makers' has been ~ o s e din terms of the military role in ~olitics,and
focused on studies of military participation and rule, and/or coup d'etats
(Abdel-Malek, 1975; Be'eri, 1970; Haddad, 1965, 1970, 1973; Horowitz,
1982; Rabinovitch, 1972; Tahir, 1989; Tarbush, 1982). As some authors
have pointed out, however (Owen, 1978; Picard, 1988), this approach does
not help us answer the question of what threats the institutions of organized
violence pose to the institutions of the state or to the regime in power. The
is I i I-t insecurity a n d S t a t e Formation in t h e Global Military Order 2 17

most effective exercise of military influence would be the complete absence

of coup attempts, and hence a decline in the number of coups is hardly evi-
dence that militarization is waning; likewise, a retreat of the military from
formal positions of power says little about the way in which the boundaries
of political debate may be set, and the constraints under which civilian
politicians may operate. Although the direct role of the armed forces in
Middle Eastern politics may have waned, with fewer coups and fewer army
officers in cabinets (Baram, 1989; Re'eri, 1982; Cooper, 1982), the balance
of social and political power between the military and other institutions has
not necessarily changed. The armed forces arguably have a larger weight in
the political and societal development of Middle Eastern states today than
when they were small, faction-ridden and coup-prone.
One way to aualyse this is suggested by Tilly's notion of a dynamic rela-
tionship between war-makers and state-makers. In the European experi-
ence, the ~ n ~ trole ~ a lof war-makers In creatmg the apparatus of the modern
state was ~ n o d ~ f r eover
d tlme as a s y m b ~ o t ~r ecl a t ~ o n s h ~between
p them 'ind
other state-makers emerged. As p o l ~ t ~ c aInstltutlons
l and effment modern
bureaucracle5 emerged, the balance between the two groups t~ltedIn f,~vour
of st~te-maker\who subord~ndtedthe armed forces to greater degree5 of
control and reduced t h e ~ rrelat~vew e ~ g h tIn polrt~cal11fe. Borrowmg from
T~lly( 1985: 1 75-7), t h ~ sglves ~t least three evolut~onarypatterns of LIVII-
r n ~ l ~ t a rrelations
) -

citlzens coilld ~ncreasmglycontrol the state, w h ~ c hIn turn controlled the

means ot organued v~olence;
2 dommant e k e (or self-~nterested'monarch') could control the \tate,
and the means of organ~zedv~olence;
the 'manager\' of orgdn17ed v~olencethemselbes could control the state.-

The f ~ r s would
t correspond to a representative democracy, the second to an
autIior~tari,inreglme (of varvlng degrees of seventy) and the t h ~ r dto a ni111-
tary junta or d ~ c t a t o r s h ~ pThe
. Issue I S not, howeker, whether or not the
people occup) lng these role\ wear un~forms,but rather w h ~ c hset of Inter-
ests they reprewnt, or cvh~ch~nterestsdoni~nateIn p o l ~ t ~ c and a l allocat~ve
struggles. 5ome generals have been to tap c ~ 111,ln
b bases of power; some
c i v ~ l ~ a nhabe
s been lnele puppet4 of the armed force\.
The process of ' c ~ v ~ l ~ ~ ~ nthat ~ ~would
a t ~ olead
~ l ' to the f m t outcome has
50 far been thwarted In the M ~ d d l eEast ( w ~ t hthe p a r t ~ a lexceptlon of
Israel), and the s o c ~ ~andi l p o l ~ t ~ c droles
l of m111tar~establ~shmentcIn the
post-colon~alM ~ d d l eka\t have evolved along the last two paths, hoth of
w h ~ c hhave li~stor~cal precedents. The 'doni~nantel~te'pattern t ~ t swell the
late Ottoman experience. ~~~~~~~~y reform w ~ as near-contlnuous o h w s i o n
of Ottoman rulers after ~ t sd e f c ~ t sby the R u s \ ~ a n sIn 1768-74, ~ l t h o u g h
serlous measure\ could not he taken u n t ~ lthe de\truct~onof the ] a n ~ \ s a r ~ e \
(the a r c h a ~ cformer core o t the reglnie and the armv) In 1836 (Hurewlt7,
1969: 28-40; 5hau, 1965). Yet the proce\s of state-hu~ld~ng proceeded o n
2 18 Widening Security

a wide front, and the Ottoman response to systemic pressures generated far-
reaching domestic social, economic and political changes in the economy
and society, conducted under the umbrella of the T a n ~ i r n a tMilitary
.~ reform
always occurred in the context of a robust and complex civil society, which
has evolved towards more representative political models. The 'military
junta' pattern resembles the Egypt of Muhammed Ali, the early 19th-century
officer who took power after the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt had opened
that area to Westernizing influences. Aside from reorganizing the army,
opening an elaborate military training system and importing new weapons,
Muhammed Ali also launched his personalistic empire-building effort by
wiping out competing claimants for power and transforming social, political
and economic relations (Farhi, 1972; Mitchell, 1988: 34-48; Ralston, 1990:
82-8). As Anwar Abdel-Malek (quoted in Ralston, 1990: 80) put it - 'for
Muhammed Ali the army ... was everything, the pivot of national life. ...
With the army as his starting point, Muhammed Ali constructed a state.'
Contemporary cases, although not always clear-cut, also fit these two
patterns. Syria, for example, falls in the 'military junta' pattern, in which
those who control the instruments of organized violence also control the
state, and use it to entrench their rule, or 'loot' it for personal gain. The
dominant Asad-Alawi group plays a major role in all aspects of political
and economic life, and the armed forces are highly sectarian. In 1980 Alawis
commanded half of all army divisions and controlled all the military intelli-
gence services (although they comprise no more than 15% of the population).
In the 1980s smuggling, often run by the military itself, accounted for 70%
of all non-military trade (Hinnebusch, 1990; Sadowski, 1987). The result was
a state in which the armed forces consumed enormous amounts of resources
(in relative and absolute terms) and played a heavy role in domestic political
and economic life. This could also easily describe the Iraqi situation, and in
both cases state managers have constructed extractive apparatuses that are
outside of the 'regular economy' and which stall the possible emergence of
a more symbiotic relationship between war-makers and other social force^.^
On the other side, one could argue that Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco
correspond to the 'dominant elite' model, in which the process of military
development was more or less subordinated to the needs of the ruling elite
(Cordesman, 1984; Safran, 1985; Vatikiotis, 1967).
Of course, neither of these patterns is precisely followed, and one should
not expect a long historical struggle to unfold without countervailing currents.
Perhaps the two most interesting cases are Egypt and Algeria, which seem at
this point to combine elements of both patterns. In Egypt, the existence of
strong technocratic and state capitalist economic elites, and a relatively strong
(i.e. legitimate) state has meant that post-1952 regimes have drawn support
from a range of social forces and groups. Although the military has been a
powerful actor, it has not occupied the stage alone. Civilian elites have an
interest in keeping the costs of security down, in order to maximize their 'rent-
seeking' opportunities; as Crystal (1994: 272) has described it - the Egyptian
business elite wants 'a state weak enough to loot, but strong enough to be
I Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 2 19

worth looting' (see also Hinnebusch, 1988). But when faced with pressure
to reduce its role after the 1979 peace with Israel, the armed forces protected
its interests not by launching a coup, but by launching agricultural, industrial
and infrastructure projects that maintained its role and status (Satloff, 1988;
Springborg, 1989). Once 'the role of the army had grown so large and had
begun to affect Egyptian life in so many ways ... it could no longer hide itself
from public criticism'. The architect of these policics (Field Marshall Abu
Ghazzaleh) was dismissed in 1990, and 'President Mubarak [has been] able to
reassert greater control over the military budget' (Owen, 1992: 204-5).
In Algeria, by contrast, the army was the dominant partner in the army1
party state, until the events of the early 1990s, and had always 'been the king-
maker at each critical j u n c t ~ ~ rin
e Algerian politics' (Mortimer, 1996: 20).
Especially throughout the 1980s, when the state was led by Chadli Benjedid
(the highest ranking military officer a t the death of Houari Boumedienne
in 1978), the armed forces managed t o maintain a high degree of institutional
autonomy and 'certain of its officers enjoyed lucrative import licenses or
access t o tidy commissions on state contracts' (Mortirner, 1996: 20). But the
process of political transformation that began in the late 1980s was a response
to the economic crisis of the 1980s, which crippled the ability of the army1
party state to continue its sentier status and t o 'buy off' other potentially
discontented or disenfranchised social groups. The 1992 coup t o stave off the
election victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) illustrated the inability
of the armed forces t o manage the process of change, and testified to the
weakness or discrediting of the traditional civilian political elite that had sur-
rounded the FLN (Front de liberation nationale), while simultaneously re-
inforcing the continued importance of the army as the 'custodian of national
values' and its institutional weight vis-a-visother social or political forces."'
The reasons behind these two diverging paths of development are doubt-
less complex, but at least two can be suggested. First, early military inter-
vention in the form of 'revolutionary officers' or reformist coups may have
'fixed' a certain pattern of politics that prevents the emergence of other 'mod-
ern' institutions (i.e. by instit~~tionalizing
economic corruption and inefficiency
tied t o satisfying demands of the armed forces, or by preventing the emergence
of an independent capitalist or technocratic elite). As Raymond Hinnebusch
notes in the Syrian case, 'from the moment Ba'thi officers brought the party to
power ... it was likely that the military would be an equal or senior partner in
the new military-party state, and that institution building would have to go
on in concert with military leadership, not apart from it' (Hinnebusch, 1990:
157). This contrasts with the Egyptian experience, in which the 1952 Free
Officers movement had to forge links with civilian technocrats and bureau-
crats, and middle-class nationalists, in order to perpetuate its rule and con-
struct a strong state apparatus (Hinnebusch, 1988: 12-39). Second, oil-rich
rentier states such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, or states with strong patron-client
relationships with external powers (such as Syria and Jordan) have been able
t o 'purchase' security (directly o r indirectly) without mobilizing societal
resources. This has meant that whoever controls the means of violence has
220 Widening Security

been able to avoid the 'guns versus butter' trade-offs that could catalyze the
'civilianization' process, or have been able to enhance their position in this
allocative struggle by lining up powerful external supporters. The civil war
in Algeria illustrates what happens when this control breaks down.

Societal/lndividual Security

The concept of societaVindividual security is concerned with the threats posed

to citizens and institutions of civil society by those who control the means of
violence, whether they are a dominant 'civilian' elite, or the managers of
organized violence themselves. The only situation in which the institutions
of organized violence pose no (or little) threat to society or to individuals is
the one in which citizens exercise real control, a situation that does not corres-
pond to many states in the Middle East. This captures the second of Tilly's
dynamic relationships, in which the state essentially promises other groups
and forces in society a certain level of security, in return for the resources it
extracts to purchase this security. This relationship ultimately 'led to a civil-
ianization of government and domestic politics', the subordination of institu-
tions of organized violence to civilian control and, as a consequence, the
military shed its internal security functions to concentrate on what grew to be
considered as 'traditional' external threats to national security (Tilly, 1990:
206). By the late 1860s, most European states 'had decided to place all their
emphasis on international war, and to allow their regular forces to slough off
their police functions' (Yapp, 1975: 349).
This has not been the case in most Middle Eastern states. In Egypt after
Sadat's assassination, for example, the army,

... was able to establish its control over the major paramilitary force, the
Central Security Police. ... As Field Marshall Abu Ghazzaleh was to
define the relationship later the same year: 'the role of the police and the
army are complementary and cannot be separated. To both of them falls
a unique task: to guarantee the security of Egypt both internally and
externally.' (cited in Owen, 1992: 204)

The CSP (also known as the Central Security Forces) numbered in 1990
about 300,000 (almost as large as the Egyptian army), and its principal mis-
sion was to serve as 'the army of the police, the army of the Ministry of the
Interior' (Middle East Watch, 1992: 29). The CSP was founded after the 1967
war, in order to provide Nasser's regime with an instrument of internal secur-
ity that would enable demonstrations and dissent to be crushed without the
direct use of the army. Likewise, in Iraq, 'for six decades the Iraqi army acted
as an agent for internal repression'; in Algeria, the armed forces are fighting
a civil war; in Saudi Arabia, the royal family tightly controls the upper ech-
elons of the defence ministry (al-Khalil, 1989: 21; Safran, 1985).
One consequence of this pattern of military development has been that
the emergence of 'pluralist' politics and an autonomous civil society has
Aimit. Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 221

been frustrated or suppressed." Although it may be the case that 'there is

throughout the region a resilient civil society with a thriving associational
life independent of effective state control', what is important is that associ-
ational life has developed in spite of great resistance from the state and
institutions of organized violence, and that civil society has been effectively
cut off from political life (Crystal, 1994: 270). The pattern of military devel-
opment in most states has obstructed both the fusion of a coherent national
identity under which other forms of affiliation are subsumed, and the emer-
gence of overlapping patterns of identity and political participation that
would diminish the primary importance of ethnicity or faith.
The institutions of organized violence have thwarted such developments
not just by their direct role in politics (i.e. as an autonomous political actor),
but by the fact that these institutions represent a tremendous reservoir of
political power that can be captured by a particular group. In states with
weak 'national' identities, Tikritis, Alawis, Bedouins or Hijazis can, by their
predominant influence over military institutions, entrench their positions
and hence thwart the emergence of more pluralist or representative politics
(Hinnebusch, 1990; I'icard, 1979; Sadowski, 1987). This experience directly
contradicts the belief that the armed forces would act as an integrative force
in a fractured polity divided along religious, ethnic and other lines. It also
opens the door to a closely related consequence - repression and state terror -
as the institutions of organized violence become the enforcement arm of
totalitarian politics.
Few authors in security studies have attempted to 'analyze the consolidated
political power generated by a merging of developed techniques of surveillance
and the technology of industrialized war', and the role of these technologies
and techniques in creating new methods of surveillance, social control and
repression (Dandeker, 1990; Giddens, 198 1 : 295). Nor have scholars related
social violence and terror (i.e. by secret police networks or resistance move-
ments) to the broader pattern of military development within postcolonial
societies." This goes far beyond the question of 'supplying instruments of
repression'; rather, I am interested in the way in which military development
has expanded 'the supervisory and information gathering capacities of the
organizations of modern society', and has bent and fused other social institu-
tions to the state and regime legitimation process (Dandeker, 1990: 2). Timothy
Mitchell's (1988: 4 1-2) description of Muhammed Ali's reforms captures this
well - 'it was an attempt to achieve the new order of the barracks and the battle-
field, with its hierarchy of signal, movement and supervision, inscribed and
enforced in the life of the village and peasant.' In the Middle East, the armed
forces' continued role in domestic intelligence and security affairs facilitated
the emergence of the 'rrzukhaharat (national security) state' - 'an authoritarian-
bureaucratic Leviathan whose stability derives more from fear than legit-
imacy' (Hudson, 199 1 : 408; Picard, 1988).
The best documented case of this is Ba'athi Iraq, where no less than eight
intelligence gathering agencies operate competing and overlapping networks
to keep surveillance on each other (al-Khalil, 1989; Middle East Watch, 1990).
222 Widening Security

Similar, if less brutal, processes can be seen, however, in Syria, Morocco and
Saudi Arabia, and in the activities of the armed forces against Islamic funda-
mentalists in Algeria, Israel and Egypt (Human Rights Watch, 1993: 331-8;
Middle East Watch, 1991, 1992). This development goes tar beyond 'militar-
ization' (defined as a prominent political role for the military) or even 'milit-
arism' (defined in terms of pervasive military values and attitudes in society),
and touches upon the ability of a small elite to control a state, and to impose
upon society a particular definition of politics (and understanding of secur-
ity) through repression and terror. The most chilling exan~plesof this can be
found in the laws concerning political activity in Iraq or Syria, and the way in
which the Ba'ath movement in both these states has created a party-army net-
work of spies, informers and torturers. Although the armed forces have not
been directly involved in many of these activities, internal and external secur-
ity functions are still consolidated at decision-making levels (as illustrated by
the Egyptian case), and the transformation from small constabularies to mod-
ern armies has brought with it the instruments of control (whether technol-
ogies or forms of organization) that made possible the mukhabarat state.
The rendering insecure of entire populations or groups within a state may
have little short-term impact on the external orientation of a state, and in
fact the effective application of state terror can provide at least a semblance
of stability. But this poses analytic problems for structural explanations of
state behaviour - either such considerations are ignored, and hence the
model is of limited explanatory utility (especially in dealing with the realign-
ments that can follow regime change, such as in Iran, Ethiopia, Somalia or
even Egypt), or they are included, which implies that one must incorporate
the dimension of 'societallindividual security' into the analysis. The problem
cannot be sidestepped by asserting that such issues fall outside the ambit of
security studies, since by Walt's own definition, security studies ought to con-
cern 'the ways that the use of force affects individuals, states and societies'
(Walt, 1991b: 212). Even a preliminary reading of the Middle Eastern case
shows that societalIindividual security is profoundly affected by the process
of military development itself, which is at least in part driven by a response
to interstate insecurities. The case for ignoring the domestic consequences of
external policies, and the 'feedback' of these policies into external relation-
ships, is thus not strong.

RegionaVlnterstate Security

The general nature of the links between the different levels of security can
be illustrated by focusing on the regionallinterstate dimension of the quest
for security - the threats states pose to each other. Not surprisingly, the bulk
of International Relations scholarship on the Middle East has concentrated on
this dimension (and on superpower involvement in the region) (Cordesman,
1993, 1994; Kemp, 1991; Walt, 1987; Yorke, 1988). I will not review the
details of the various regional conflicts here, but simply point out how sys-
temic influences can affect the process of military development and how
i r t - i Insecurity a n d S t a t e Formation in t h e Global Military Order 223

the regionallinterstate and other dimensions of security might interact in a

negative way.
The process of state-making and military development in the Middle East
has in part been driven by external pressures manifested in preparation for,
and actual fighting of, wars. This was evident in the already-noted expansion
of armed forces in the aftermath of regional wars, and in the more diffuse
pursuit of regional status and hegemony that influenced the policy choices o f
states such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The creation and crystallization of the
regional state system turned traditional rivalries between economic, cultural
and historical centres such as Cairo, Teheran, Damascus and Baghdad into
rivalries between states that expressed themselves in the quest for status or
regional hegemony, often measured by relative war-making capabilities. In
addition, military-technological influences, and particular ideas about the
'proper' structure for a modern armed force led to the development of a rela-
tively high-technology 'combined arms capability'. In terms of equipment,
forces that earlier possessed a high proportion of relatively low capability
weapons (utility aircraft and trainers, armoured cars and personnel carriers)
shifted so that they have much higher proportions of high-capability weapons
(advanced fighter aircraft and tanks). This reflects a belief about the efficacy
of modern military technology that is disconnected from the growth of the
capability of the armed forces themselves. The region is rife with cases (Libya
and Saudi Arabia among the most egregious) where weapons that could not
be used by the existing armed forces were acquired in large quantities, only
to rust in storage or be operated by foreigners at low levels of operational
The more important issue concerns the way in which the regional1
interstate dimension of security might interact with the regime and societal
levels. Negative linkages can be postulated in either direction - insecurities a t
the regional level can exacerbate insecurities for the regime or its citizens,
and vice-versa. The first is relatively easy to grasp - at the most basic level,
war-making activities consumed enormous amounts of resources (as the fig-
ures in Table 1 suggest) that could have in principle been devoted to other
developmental pursuits. Israel, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, for example, all have
more than 20 soldiers per thousand ~ o p u l a t i o n(1993 data), and are among
the top ten states in this category.'Wilitary expenditures in the Middle East
(including Egypt, excluding North Africa) were well over 1 5 % of GNP
throughout the 1980s (although they have dropped in recent years), while
the global average was around 5.0% (United States Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency, 199.5). Although there may be no direct trade-off
hetween defence spending and economic growth (Ball, 19881, the opportunity
costs of such expenditures loom large. Perhaps more indirectly, the inability of
most Arab regimes to win regional wars has undermined their legitimacy, and
forced greater reliance on repression and authoritarianism to maintain regime
security. This was certainly the case in Egypt after 1967, in Iraq during and
after the Iran-Iraq war, and possibly also in Syria (Hinnebusch, 1993; Ibrahim,
224 Widening Security

The quest for regionallinterstate security did not always involve huge
direct costs. As Middle Eastern states became caught up in the rivalries of
the cold war, patron-client relationships with external powers often meant
the flow of huge sums in military and economic assistance to states such as
Syria, Israel, Egypt and Jordan, and privileged access to modern weapons for
those states that could afford to pay for them (Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia).
Although regional 'arms racing', fuelled and financed by the United States and
the Soviet Union cannot be easily correlated with the outbreak of wars, 'gov-
ernment spending priorities in the Middle East reflected not only the absolute
number of local conflicts but also ... the willingness of both the superpowers
and local regimes to deal in goods and services that fostered those conflicts to
the detriment of domestic development programs' (Anderson, 1992: 169). On
a more subtle level, these relationships allowed Middle Eastern regimes to
avoid compromises with local rivals, since the possibility always existed
that a patron would help bankroll or support a bid for regional hegemony
(or cover the losses from such a bid by replacing weapons, for example).
Such behaviour was manifest by Syria and Iraq in the 1980s, in their respect-
ive conflicts with Israel and Iran (arguably the same could be said of Egypt
and Israel). Of course, the yentier states of the region could avoid the guns-
butter trade-off not by depending on external support, but by avoiding any
reliance on 'taxation' altogether (Waterbury, 1994).The economic crisis of the
late 1980s, however, has somewhat altered this equation (Sadowski, 1992).
The second negative interaction, where insecurities at the domestic level
have an impact on regional security processes, is more difficult to grasp. In
principle, when the institutions of organized violence control the state (or a
particular regime depends on their support to control the state) then regional
conflict resolution processes (such as arms control or confidence-building
measures) that threaten the claim of the armed forces on national resources
and priorities will be more costly (to the regime) to entertain. A regime may
not be strong enough to withstand the resistance that would accompany ini-
tiatives to make peace with its neighbours. The opposition of the Egyptian
armed forces to the peace with Israel and their subsequent behaviour (and
President Sadat's assassination) is a case in point, as is the difference between
the Syrian and Egyptian stances towards the peace process with Israel. More
specific conflict resolution proposals such as controls on armaments, basing/
deployment restrictions, transparency measures or restrictions on the size of
the armed forces, could impede a regime's ability to counter perceived internal
threats to security. This makes Syrian (and to a lesser extent Jordanian) par-
ticipation in such agreements more difficult to imagine. Thus when Geoffrey
Kemp (1991: cover) notes that 'far-reaching arms control agreements ... will
remain elusive until the key regional players realize that they have more to
gain than to lose from such a process' it must be added that the most impor-
tant 'players' are not states, but regimes, and their calculations of gains and
losses may be different.
Finally, and more subtly, there remains the issue of who defines security -
are the strategies that are adopted for managing regional conflicts and external
t i t Insecurity and State Formation in the Global Military Order 225

threats based on the idea of a relentless military struggle, o r a defensive but

military-based concept of how t o achieve security, or d o they include pos-
sihle transformations in the security environment (cooperative as well as con-
flictive solutions). The weakness of those social forces that would benefit the
most from a transformation of the Middle Eastern conflict environment has
meant the dominance of particular ideas concerning how regional security
can be achieved. The difference between the Egyptian and Syrian approaches
to peace with Israel, when compared to the economic policies both pursued
in the late 1970s and 1980s (the Egyptian infitah, or economic opening to the
West, versus a continued Syrian commitment to a tightly controlled com-
mand economy), again suggests that the different processes of military devel-
opment might play a role in such decisions (Hinnebusch, 1988; Seale, 1988).


The principal thesis of this article is that the quest for security in the develop-
ing world cannot be understood without reference to the process of military
development, the insertion of states into the global security order and the
state-building projects that new regimes have embarked upon. Thinking
of 'security' in the developing world within the framework of states locked in
a security dilemma has led scholars to ignore the broader forces that influence
security policies and practices in the process of military development, and their
complex interaction across the 'internal/external divide.'14 Such a narrow
focus cannot even adequately explain the most concrete manifestation of the
security dilemma (changes in military capabilities and the threats these pose)
without reference to internal political and social processes.
The most common response to this charge is that the orthodox concept of
interstate security is adequate for the analytical task at hand, and that the
other issues 1 have outlined (societaVindividual and regimehate dimensions of
security) are important, but not relevant. At a deeper level, however, this too
can be called into question, for what is at stake here is not only the appropri-
ateness of the analytic tools of security studies scholars, but the definition o f
the discipline itself. The definition promoted by Walt and others (Haftendorn,
1991; Nye and Lynn-Jones, 1988; Walt, 1991b) is historically myopic and
Western-centric. The reason security studies scholars can unproblematically
state that 'a subject that is only remotely related t o central political problems
of threat perception and management among sovereign states would be re-
garded as peripheral' (Nye and Lynn-Jones, 1988: 7) is precisely because this
rests upon a historically-specific resolution to the problem of evacuating the
threat of organized violence from political life. With this achieved, 'security'
became confined t o other things - in the international arena, to interstate
threats; domestically, to 'social security' and the pursuit of welfare goals in
advanced industrial societies. But transplanting this vision of security to the
rest of the world ignores precisely what is distinctive, interesting and import-
ant about its security problematic.
226 Widening Security

Similarly, I argue that the occluded aspects of the orthodox definition

are more important for understanding security policies and practices in
the developing world. The 'ways that the use of force affects individuals,
states and societies' (Walt, 1991b: 212) are especially important in states
and societies where the institutions of organized violence are the only re-
motely modern ones, and where 'insecurities' have as much to do with the
internal process of state consolidation and regime legitimation, or with rela-
tions between states and their citizens, as with interstate conflicts and rival-
ries. The consequences of 'military development' are not simply manifest in
regional arms races and conflicts, but are felt directly by citizens in their
often difficult relationships with institutions of organized violence. Interstate
rivalries may actually arise from the process of state and regime legitimation
(Herbst, 1990), or may be exacerbated by it, and the weakness of most states
in the developing world (qua states) presents serious obstacles to regional
conflict management projects that often depend on a high degree of internal
cohesion and legitimacy to sustain the difficult political compromises and
choices that must be made.
The final argument for supporting the expanded conception of security
studies outlined above is a normative one. While the equation of 'security'
with the creation and maintenance of stable conflict relations between
states might have been defensible during the East-West confrontation, it
rests upon a ~roblematicsevering of security studies from broader currents of
International Relations and political science, and ignores the consequences
that the quest for security has had on political, social and economic life in
developing and advanced industrialized states. Contemporary projects for
security building cannot afford to reproduce this narrow focus.
The research agenda that this redefinition of security studies implies is,
however, a difficult one. It requires not only an integration into security
studies of insights from other currents of International Relations (Baldwin,
1995), but a greater reliance on comparative politics, regional expertise and
area studies. The intellectual 'costs' of this move are high, and while it is
unlikely that many scholars will or could take up the challenge, it is crucial
that the discipline of security studies at least make room for such work,
rather than dismissing it as irrelevant to its central concerns. Similarly, inso-
far as the methodological tools of rationalist social science have become part
of the baggage of conventional security studies (Haftendorn, 1991: 12; Walt,
1991b: 222), and are inappropriate to a broader approach, then room must
also be made for alternative methodologies that are not judged by their abil-
ity to generate testable, generalizable, neo-positivist, hypotheses.15
With respect to the Middle East, the incorporation of the region into the
global security order, the concomitant massive supplying of sophisticated
military technologies, and the 'halo of prestige' that surrounds the region's
modern military organizations, has driven the process of political change in
Middle Eastern states and societies down particular historical paths, with
often dramatically negative consequences for the security and well-being of
1 , i I.( Insecurity a n d S t a t e Formation in t h e Global Military Order 227

their citizens. Not only has this been neglected by security studies analysts,
but scholars concerned with the prospects for democratization and civil
society in the Middle East have also neglected the systemic influences of
interstate rivalries, and the itnpact of attempts to achieve interstate security
on the prospects for political, economic and social change." Until both
groups better understand the logic behind Middle Eastern states' military
development choices, and the way i n which these may he shaped by systemic
and internal forces, efforts to chart paths away from the pathological rela-
tionships that have characterized the region's political life will remain futile.


I have henefited from input from a variety of people o n this project, in particuLlr Mich,lel
Barnett, Jennifer Milliken, lkivid Mutinier, Michael Williams .lnd the anonymous referees for
this journal. Earlier ( a n d partial) versions were presented a t C o l u m b ~ a University, York
University, the [Jn~tersity of Wisconsin-Madison, Konstanz Un~versitya n d the Gr,ldu.lte
I n s t ~ t u t eof International Studies (Geneva). T h e Social Science a n d Humanities Research
C o u n c ~ l( C a n a d a ) has f ~ n m c i a l l ysupported this r e s e ~ r c h .

I . A, Daniel Ileudney put it ( 1990: 463-4). 'if everything that c'iuses a decline in Iium,in
well-heing is labelled a "secur~ty"threat, the term ... lwcomrs a loose synonym of "had"'.
2. Although I'ercival ad Homer-Dixon ( 1 9 9 5 ) d o focus o n the civil w a r in RwanJ.1,
rather r h ~ nexclus~velyo n its interstate dimension.
3. M o r e soph~sricated:lrea s t u J ~ e sanalysts re nor, howevcr, necessarily as state-centric '1s
the x h o l a r s cited above, and they d o often i~icorporatesuch issues as the use of force hy non-st,lte
actors, o r the complex of state-society relations (for example, see Ken-Dor, 1983; Migdal, 1988).
T h e target here, however, are the more conceptu,ll attempts t o dr'iw the h o u n d a r ~ e sof thc f~eld,
w h ~ c htend t o exclude such people from security stud~es.
4. A fully worked-our study could a l w , a t least in princ~ple,incorporate these iswcs into
Tilly's framework.
5. T h e term 'military development' has also been used by Kruce Arlinghaus ( 1984) t o rne,ln
'the growth and modernuation o f .irnied forces'. M y dcfinit~onIS consider:~bly broader.
6. T h e army w a s greatly reduced after 1 9 4 I, but it re-emerged after World War I1 w ~ t hthe
same role a n d nilsslon. O n the e.lrlicr role of army officers in the emergence of modern Iraq
after World War I, see Tauher (1993).
7. Tilly's account in turn leans o n trccleric L.ant., and ,tlthough I have replicated I.ane's
three c,ltegories, T ~ l l ysuggests that 'monarchic control' 31id control by a d o r n ~ n a n class' r {nay
not he the \Arne thing.
8. As Hurewirz (1969: 37) notes concernmg the C)ttorn,ln c.lse, what began a s rnilit'lry
modern17arion in the early 19th century evolved in t w o directions, a n d 13)- the 1860s 'the
modernization program / T t l t ~ z ~ t m... t / h~furcated,w ~ t hthe m i l ~ t ~ l rayn d civilians going t h c ~ r
s e p ~ r a t eways'.
d nature o f the [current Iraq11 systcn~,o n e
9. As l'ahir (IYX9: 1 6 ) notes: 'to ~ ~ n d e r s t a nthe
must return t o its structur.ll origins in the c o u p d'etat of 19.58 ( m y t r a n s l a t ~ o n )
10. For a n overmew o n A l g e r i ~see the contributions t o 'Algerie: la descentc a u x enfrrs',
LC Cahicrs de l'Orient, 36-7 ( 1994-5); Mortirner ( 1996).
I I. O n the debate o n c i v ~ lsoclety in the Middle East, see Norton ( 1 994,1995) and the
journal of the Ibn Khaldoun Center tor 1)evelopment Studies ((:am)), Gild Society.
12. Andrew Ross ( 19871, tor example, lists 'military regimes' a5 his only domestic p o l ~ r ~ c a l
228 Widening Security

13. The world average is 4.4 soldiers per thousand population. The figures are - Israel,
36.8; Syria, 28.5; Jordan, 26.2; Iraq, 21.2 (United States Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency, 1995).
14. For a recent example o f the persistence o f thinking about military development in
interstate terms, see Cordesman (1993),which discusses internal civil conflicts, but does not
analyse in any way how the pattern o f military development he exhaustively traces might be
connected with them.
15. This raises an issue much greater than can be treated here. For an extended discussion,
see Krause and Williams (1996).
16. This general neglect is reflected in most o f the contributions t o Norton (1994, 1995)
and SalamC (1994).


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Constructing National Interests

T he concept of 'the national interest' has long been central to theories

of international politics because of its role in the explanation of state
action.' Nonetheless, its analytical usefulness has been as often con-
tested as defended. O n one side of this dispute stand critics who argue that
the notion of the national interest, while seductive, also has grave flaws.
According to Steve Smith, for exan~ple,the popularity of the concept is due
not to its analytical power, which is suspect, but to the fact that 'it can be used
to mean whatever the user wishes' and to its 'commonsensical appeal' (1986:
23-6). Others have pronounced the concept to be 'oversimplified and wrong-
headedly dogmatic' (Hoffniann, 1978: 133) and denounced it as 'a weapon
that saps democratic processes' because it is often used to stifle debate over
foreign policy decisions and state actions (in Clinton, 1986: 49.5). For a var-
iety of reasons, in short, some scholars have dismissed 'the national interest'
as a moribund analytical concept with 'little future' (Rosenau, 1968: 39).' On
the other side of this dispute are those who insist that the notion of 'the
national interest' should ren~aincentral to explanations of state action and
thus of international politics. Most prominent among this latter group of
scholars are realists, who follow Hans Morgenthau in his assertion that 'the
national interest' is explicitly 'the main signpost that helps political realism to
find its way through the landscape of international politics' (1978: 5).
In this article, I side with those who have argued for the continued salience
of 'the national interest' to accounts of state action, and hence to theories of
international politics. The national interest is important to explanations of
international politics, and so requires adequate theorization, quite simply
because it is the language of state action - in the making of foreign policy, the
'internal language of decision is the language of national interest' (Hollis and
Smith, 1990: 166). As even one rather strong critic of 'the national interest'
has admitted,

... [pol~t~call
actors have found ... the concept useful both as a way of
thrnkmg about t h e ~ goals
r and as a means of rnobd~ztngsupport for them.
234 Widening Security

That is, not only do political actors tend to perceive and discuss their goals
in terms of the national interest, but they are also inclined to claim that
their goals are the national interest, a claim that often arouses the support
necessary to move toward a realization of the goals. Consequently, even
though it has lost some of its early appeal as an analytical tool, the
national interest enjoys considerable favor as a basis for action and has
won a prominent place in the dialogue of public affairs. (Rosenau, 1968:
34, emphasis in the original)

In other words, 'the national interest' is important to international politics

in two ways. First, it is through the concept of the national interest that policy-
makers understand the goals to be pursued by a state's foreign policy. It thus
in practice forms the basis for state action. Second, it functions as a rhetor-
ical device through which the legitimacy of and political support for state
action are generated. 'The national interest' thus has considerable power in
that it helps to constitute as important and to legitimize the actions taken by
states. As Henry Kissinger recently put it - 'When you're asking Americans
to die, you have to be able to explain it in terms of the national interest'
(quoted in Kelly, 1995: 12). Because 'the national interest' in practice plays
these vital roles in the making of foreign policy, and so in determining state
actions, it clearly should occupy a prominent place in accounts of inter-
national politics.
But how should 'the national interest' be conceptualized? In this article
I argue that it should be understood as a social construction. Drawing on
constructivist assumptions, I argue that before state officials can act for the
state, they need to engage in a process of interpretation in order to under-
stand both what situation the state faces and how they should respond to it.
This process of interpretation, in turn, presupposes a language shared, at
least, by those state officials involved in determining state action and by the
audience for whom state action must be legitimate. This shared language is
that of 'the national interest'. The content of 'the national interest', I then
argue, is produced in, or emerges out of, a process of representation through
which state officials (among others) make sense of their international con-
text. The 'national interest', that is, is constructed, is created as a meaning-
ful object, out of shared meanings through which the world, particularly the
international system and the place of the state in it, is understood.
In the next section I briefly discuss the conventional realist conception
of the national interest, lodging two criticisms against it. The bulk of the
paper then offers a constructivist retheorization of the national interest
that overcomes the problems that plague this conventional understanding.
In the third section I illustrate this reconceptualization of the national inter-
est with a brief case study of the construction of US national interests
in the Cuban missile crisis. I conclude the argument by discussing three
important implications of this constructivist retheorization of 'the national
I t i Constructing National Interests 235

Problems with Realism

With realists, I agree that 'the national interest' is crucial to our understand-
ing of international politics. In both the classic and the structural or 'neo-'
varieties of realism, the national interest - or what is sometimes called 'state
interest' or 'state preference' - carries a considerable explanatory burden.
IHowever, the way in which realists have conceptualized the national interest
is inadequate. In this section I briefly discuss the realist conception and then
point to two of its shortcomings in order to provide the starting point for a
constructivist rethinking of the national interest.
O n realist accounts, international politics differ from domestic politics pri-
marily in their anarchic character. The absence of a supra-state 'Leviathan'
places states in inevitable and perpetual competition - the so-called 'security
dilemma' (e.g. Herz, 1951 ). As a result, states must necessarily be concerned
with their survival. The general content of the national interest is thus deter-
mined deductively; it is inferred from the anarchic, self-help character of the
international system.' For Morgenthau this meant that the fundamental na-
tional interest of any state was to 'protect [its] physical, political, and cultural
identity against encroachments by other nations' ( 195 1: 972). More specific
threats to states are determined by their relative power in the international sys-
tem. That is, the particular threats facing a state or challenging its national
interest are (or should be) 'calculated according to the situation in which the
state finds itself', specifically with reference to the structure of the system -the
distribution of capabilities or the number of great powers. 'To say that a coun-
try acts in its national interest', Waltz argued, 'means that, having examined
its security requirements, it tries to meet them' ( 1979: 134).Power and wealth
supply the means necessary for states to survive, to meet their security require-
ments, and thus to continue to compete in a system i n which other states are
necessarily either actual or potential threats. Decisior1-makers and policy ana-
lysts are therefore advised realistically to assess the distribution of power; they
should overcome their 'aversion to seeing problems of international politics as
they are' (Morgenthau, 195 1: 7) in order objectively to assess their national
interests in light of the distribution of power. Every state, that is, must pursue
its national interest 'defined in terms of power' (Morgenthau, 19.52: 964)
because this is the surest road to security and survival.
O n this realist argument, then, the 'national interest' clearly plays a piv-
otal role in accounts of international politics. Through the need for security,
it connects the nature of the international system, specifically anarchy and
the distribution of power, with the policies and actions of states. There are,
however, two problems with this realist notion of the national interest that
are important for m y argument. First, its content - defined as the security
and survival of the state - is so general as to be indeterminate. Second and
more importantly for niy argument, this notion of the national interest rests
on a questionable empiricist epistemology which ignores the centrality of
processes of interpretation.
236 Widening Security

As many critics have noted, the deductive determination of national

interests prevalent in realism has led to a conception of those interests which
is 'too broad, too general, too vague, too all-inclusive' to explain state action
(Sonderman, 1987: 60). The reason is simple -political realism 'deals with the
perennial conditions that attend the conduct of statecraft, not with the specific
conditions that confront the statesman' (Tucker, 1961: 463).4 It tells us that
states pursue, or should pursue, security and, as a means to that end, power
and wealth, but it does not tell us what exactly that means that states will, or
should, do because 'the dictates of power are never clearly manifest' (Rosenau,
1968: 3 7 ) . As a result, realist analyses of the international system cannot 'con-
vincingly' be related 'to specific choices in the world of action' (Rothstein,
1972: 353). The traditional realist conception of the national interest therefore
cannot help us to explain the adoption by a state of particular policies over
alternative means for achieving security. That is, it cannot tell us about the his-
torically contingent content of the national interest as identified and pursued
by state official^.^ 'The injunction to "pursue the national interest"', it seems,
'has no substantive content' (Rosenberg, 1990: 291)6and so is not very help-
ful for understanding the concrete actions of states in the international system.
More importantly, the realist 'national interest' rests upon the assumption
that an independent reality is directly accessible both to statesmen and to ana-
lysts. It is assumed that the distribution of power in the system can 'realistic-
ally' or objectively be assessed and, more importantly, that threats to a state's
national interests can accurately be recognized. Morgenthau could therefore
urge statesmen to overcome their 'aversion to seeing problems of international
politics as they are' (1951: 7, emphasis added).7 The difficulty, of course, is
that objects and events do not present themselves unproblematically to the
observer, however 'realistic' he or she may be. Determining what the particu-
lar situation faced by a state is, what if any threat a state faces, and what the
'correct' national interest with respect to that situation or threat is, always
requires interpretation. Rather than being self-evident, that is, threats, and
states' national interests in the face of threats, are fundamentally matters of
interpretation. For example, US decision-makers' statements to the contrary
notwithstanding, the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962
was not self-evidently a threat to the US. To see it as a threat to US national
interests - instead of, say, as the defense of Cuba - required significant inter-
pretative labor. (I return to this example later.) The realist approach to inter-
national politics, with its assumption that threats are self-evident, cannot
explain why particular situations are understood to constitute threats to the
state. It therefore also cannot explain why certain actions, ostensibly taken in
response to these threats, are 'in the national interest' in the first place.

T h e Construction of National Interests

Alexander Wendt's recent constructivist interventions suggest a way to begin

to overcome the difficulties that plague the conventional, realist conception of
\\ i*iriil-, Constructing National Interests 237

the national interest. Wendt has convincingly argued, against realist orthodoxy,
that 'self-interested', security-oriented conceptions of state interest are not
produced by or deducible from the systemic condition of anarchy: instead,
'anarchy is what states make of it' (1992: 395)."his is the case because
both the interests of states and the identities on which those interests depend
rest not solely upon the structure o f the system but also upon the 'collective
meanings that constitute thc structures which organire' state action. What is
needed to explain state interests and thus state action, Wendt reasons, is a
theory that accounts for the 'intersubjectively constituted structure of iden-
tities and interests' of states (1992: 401).
Constructivisnl provides an approach within which to generate such a
theory. It does so, specifically, on the basis of the fundamental principle 'that
people act towards objects, including other actors, on the basis of the mean-
ings that the objects have for them' (1992: 396-7), meanings that are inter-
subjectively constituted. Adopting a constructivist approach, that is, allows
us to examine the intersubjectively constituted identities and interests of
states and the intersuhjective meanings out of which they are produced.
Wendt's constructivist argument goes some way towards reconceptual-
izing the national interest as the product of intersubjective processes of
meaning creation. However, his analysis does not itself provide an adequate
account of national interests for at least one important reason. Wendt's
anthropomorphized understanding of the state continues to treat states, in
typical realist fashion, as unitary actors with a single identity and a single set
o f interests ( 1 992: 397, note 21)." The state itself is treated as a 'black box',